The New England Free Jacks Announce World Class Preliminary Roster for Inaugural 2020 Season in Major League Rugby
The 35-Man prelude squad will report for training in December with additional players to come
- Free Jacks are excited to welcome a host of international talent while retaining a core group of New England-developed players to compete at the highest level of North American professional rugby.
- 21 USA-eligible players with a combined 20 All-American honors are in the mix.
- 11 total countries are represented, with 7 international test and / or “A” level players.
- 10 players with European, Pro14, or British and Irish Cup caps.
- 9 Players with New Zealand Mitre-10 National Provincial experience.
- Additional players to be added through play in the New England competitive season this fall and following the Rugby World Cup.
Boston, MA – The New England Free Jacks today announced the preliminary roster for the inaugural 2020 season in Major League Rugby, combining a mix of premier players from global rugby hotbeds with national level talent developed on the fields of New England’s high schools, colleges, and clubs.
“We are excited for the potential of this preliminary group for our Inaugural Season in MLR,” said Free Jacks co-Founder and CEO Alex Magleby. “Our coaches have worked long hours to find players from around the globe who have demonstrated they like to work, learn, put the team first, and really want to add and be a part of the New England community.”
“It is a talented, well-rounded group who have proven they love to compete. In rugby terms there are Ranfurly shield winners, national collegiate and national club champions, All-Ireland winners, provincial and international U20 champions, High School and Ivy League champions,” said Magleby. “Almost two-thirds of this prelim group have university degrees. There are players who competed and excelled in judo, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, even props who ran track. Gaelic footballers. Competitive table tennis. Ultramarathon runners, squash, sailing, wrestling, and lacrosse players. Ice hockey, volleyball. Bowling! Love that. They just love to grind, adapt and compete, and to find a way to win.”
A number of players from the 2019 Cara Cup and exhibition season will return to the Free Jacks for the first full season in Major League Rugby, including flyhalf Tadhg Leader, loose forward Owen Hundt, wing Christian Adams, and multiple “Workhorse-of-the-Week” recipient, Jackson Thiebes, as examples. Additionally, several well-known Boston-developed players look to feature prominently, including but not limited to USA Eagle prop Anthony Purpura, fullback Danny Collins, and the everlasting flanker Jon Kokinda.
“We are bringing together this group of incredibly talented and humble players from around the region, the country, and the world to ignite New England with professional rugby,” said Free Jacks head coach Josh Smith. “Our goal this offseason was to put together a complete team top to bottom leveraging the resources and quality pool we had locally. It will be very exciting to bring the new guys in to be embraced by the community and create a really dynamic competitive team environment. We can’t wait to see what they can do in 2020. We also look forward to assessing more players in the coming days through the MLR transfer process, the ARP / fall club season, and the Rugby World Cup.”
Following the finalization of the rest of the roster in the coming weeks, the players will report to preseason on December 2nd, with the 2020 Major League Rugby regular season set to kickoff in February.
Please note two players of the 35 preliminary roster have been embargoed to respect current commitments and will be announced shortly.
The full roster can be found below:
- Isaac Cavu
- Simon Courcoul
- Tolu Fahamokioa
- Quentin Newcomer
- Anthony Purpura
- Steven Hinshaw
- Diego Maquieira
- Sean McNulty
- Conor Kindregan
- Josh Larsen
- Ronan McCusker
- Jackson Thiebes
- Naulia Dawai
- Evan Geist
- Pago Haini
- Brad Hemopo
- Owen Hundt
- Jon Kokinda
- Ollie Engelhart
- John Poland
- Erik Thompson
- Timothée Guillimin
- Tadhg Leader
- Ahmad Harajly
- Peter Lupton
- Liam Steel
- Christian Adams
- Danny Collins
- Steven Dazzo
- Peceli Rinakama
- Beaudein Waaka
- Poasa Waqanibau
- Mitch Wilson
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New England Free Jacks
The New England Free Jacks are greater Boston’s 1st Professional Rugby team representing all the greatness of the six New England states on and off the field. The Free Jacks were named the 9th member of Major League Rugby on September 20th and will compete in the 2020 MLR regular season.
For more information on the Free Jacks:
Major League Rugby
Major League Rugby (MLR) is a professional rugby league, launched in April 2018. It is an initiative of the American rugby community, in partnership with private investors, who believe that American rugby can thrive at the highest levels—as a commercial enterprise; as an influential player on the international scene; and as a participation sport at the youth and senior level. MLR is the pinnacle of American rugby, and provides a rallying point for local communities, a focal point for American rugby fans, and an aspirational destination for young athletes.
For more information on Major League Rugby
Isaac Cavu: Ca-Voo 🇫🇯🇦🇺 22-year-old 5’10” 260 lb prop who can play both sides of the scrum, loves to run with ball in hand. From in Perth, Australia, Isaac developed his game with the renowned Western Force academy junior and development squads and went on to represent Fiji U20s and Australia School-Boys national teams. Scrum highlights here. Cavu in Fijian is “portable.” Idini cavu is a water taxi.
Simon Courcoul: See-Moan Cor-Cool 🇫🇷. Simon is a 23-year-old 6’0” 260 lb prop who can play both sides of the scrum, although primarily a loosehead. Joining the Free Jacks this spring he was a great addition in the side’s competition in the Cara Cup becoming top of the table at effective attack breakdowns and scrums. Simon is originally from Laval, France, (before the French Revolution Laval was part of the province of Maine!) where he was selected to both the Under-19 and Under-20 National Teams, winning a U-20 European Champion (Grand Slam) and representing France in the Junior World Cup. Prior to joining the Free Jacks he competed in the MLR for Austin Elite. No surprise this rather fleet footed front-rower played tennis, judo, and table tennis growing up! Will be a great addition to the Free Jacks chef show, although we don’t think he can cook!
Tolu Fahamokioa: Toe-Lou Fa-ha-mo-kee-o-a 🇹🇴🇳🇿 Tolu 28-year-old 6’3” 250 lb prop who has played both sides of the scrum in Mitre 10 Cup, New Zealand’s elite club championship. Born in Tonga, Tolu attended Wellington College high school in NZ. Has played Mitre 10 for Hawkes Bay and Wellington. Tolu adapted to the demands of first-class rugby and by the end of the 2015 season was training with the Hurricanes Super Rugby squad. In April 2017, he was named in the Provincial Barbarians side to face the British & Irish Lions in their tour opener in Whangarei. When not propping he wishes he were a flyhalf, but started out as a wing getting demo’ed by Julian Savea, in his own words!
Quentin Newcomer: Quinn-tin New-come-er 🇺🇸 6’1” 250 lb 23-year-old tighthead plucked from Virginia Commonwealth University and the summer club league of Colorado. Q joined the Free Jacks this spring and continuously worked hard on his development. He is currently training and enjoying high repetitions this summer in the Canterbury premier club division in New Zealand. He majored in homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. He has worked hard for major strength improvements during the exhibition season and has the ability to grow into a force in the set-piece.
Anthony Purpura: Purr-purr-a 🇺🇸 32-year-old 6’3” 225 lb prop who can play both sides of the scrum. A Haverhill, Mass, native, Tony played football and wrestled at Brooks and Avon Old Farms before hitting the gridiron at UMaine where he picked up rugby. Tony rapidly developed his game and represented the Collegiate All-Americans and quickly becoming Eagle #416 with United States National Team. He has earned 11 international caps to date. He previously spent time with the San Diego Legion in the MLR and has had repetitions in clubs in Boston (BRFC & Mystic), Old Blue, OMBAC, Calgary, and Canterbury. Tony has been a great advocate for the Free Jacks this spring as one of the club’s community performance coaches. Tony graduated with a degree in Finance and has done assistant coaching stints at Boston College and Harvard. Tony’s passion for the game is here.
Steven Hinshaw: 🇺🇸 23-year-old 6’2” 245 lb born in Mishawaka, Indiana, the youngest of 7 siblings, native of La Jolla, CA, Steven grew up playing baseball and football at the Bishop School in San Diego. He graduated from Dartmouth College with an Economics degree in 2018 as well as serving as co-Captain of Dartmouth’s Ivy winning rugby team. He has played every position in the forward pack and has spent the last year with the Free Jacks and Mystic River honing his skills as a hooker. Steven currently serves as a healthcare consultant for Commonwealth Health Advisors. He loves “the atmosphere of loyalty, community, and perseverance that defines New England. As well as the stunning natural beauty of the region.” Kodiak bear is his spirit animal and at night you can find him catching one of his favorites in Finding Nemo, Hercules, or Forrest Gump.
Diego Maquieira: Dee-ay-go Ma-key-yay-rra 🇺🇸🇦🇷 28-year-old 6’0” 245 lb hooker who can back up at prop, Diego was born and raised in Queens, NY, a big Mets fan. He attended Middlesex School wrestling, track and field, and football before heading to Bucknell to continue the football dream before transferring and graduating from Northeastern University in 2014 earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Business. He has played 15s and 7s for Mystic River, the Northeast 7s Academy, and spent MLR Year 1 with the Houston SaberCats. Diego currently is a Sr. Financial Analyst with BNY Mellon. Both of Diego’s parents are from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Check him out: Diego’s Houston interview and in Spanish interview.
Sean McNulty: Shawn Mc-Nul-ty 🇺🇸🇮🇪 23-year-old 6’2” 240 lb Irish citizen, Landon born, Rye, New York raised, this Irish-schooled hooker has played for the Ireland U19s and U20s and the Leinster Academy from 2015 to 2018 making the senior Leinster lineup on multiple occasions. He went to boarding school Rockwell College in Munster before heading to Dublin to attend University College Dublin, earning a Diploma in Business and Sports Management. He currently qualifies for the USA Eagles having lived in the US for more than 10 years. His folks are based in Hingham, Mass. He loves to win and his spirit animal is the St Bernard. Sean played in multiple matches for MLR friends and rivals RUNY this spring on loan from the Free Jacks. His older brother Harry has had a huge influence of late on the recent successes of the Ireland 7s team.
Conor Kindregan: Con-ur Kin-dra-gan 🇮🇪 27-year-old 6’4″265 lb lock, Irish born and raised, he attended the University of Limerick from 2010-2015, earning a Bachelors of Science Degree in Wood Science & Technology. Conor played for the Connacht Academy and was Irish AIL Div 1A Player of the Year in 2016 while with home club Cork Constitution. He made the All-Ireland Club 1st XV in the winter of 2019 before joining the Free Jacks. At one stage this beast of a lock competed in the 60-meter and the 100-meter dashes.
Josh Larsen: 🇨🇦🇳🇿 25-year-old 6’5” 235 lb British Columbia born, Northland New Zealand raised, Josh has spent time with Northland and Otago in the Mitre 10 cup before becoming a force for the Austin Elite and is currently chasing a starting spot in the Canadian engine room for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Josh played rugby for and graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of commerce and helped his team win the Ranfurly Shield.
Ronan McCusker: Ro-nan Mc-Kus-ker 🇮🇪🇺🇸 23-year-old US citizen born in Ireland, played for the Rainey Old Boys and Ulster U20s. Graduated from the University of Ulster with a degree in Building Surveying. A workhorse at lock, Ronan played 3 years of inter-provincial rugby for Ulster and received an All Ireland League promotion. This spring, Ronan made an impact when he spent time with Austin Elite in the MLR on loan from the Free Jacks. Ronan played the fall season of 2019 with Mystic River before joining the Free Jacks in the spring exhibition season.
Jackson Thiebes: Thee-bis 🇺🇸 25-year-old 6’5” 255 lb born in Portland, OR, raised in Kalispell, MT, Jackson spent his high school days playing rugby and football. He was recruited to Lewis and Clark as a tight-end, before transferring to the University of Montana where he became a third-team all-conference offensive tackle at over 300 lb. This Mystic River man is playing lock now for the Free Jacks, having done a few weeks with our MLR friends and rivals RUNY this spring on loan, at 6’5” 255 lb. He had an exceptionally high work rate for a big guy during the Cara Cup and as the game becomes more natural to him will be sure to shine on the highest level. He graduated with a BA Psychology from Montana and recently an MBA-Marketing from Endicott College. Jackson’s spirit animal is a Buffalo, he loves the Rolling Stones, and is also a British Citizen. Last summer he worked in marketing for Springworks Farm, an aquaponics sustainable fish farm in Lisbon, Maine. Jackson has been involved in Big Brother and Sisters of America and has volunteered for the Habitat of Humanity.
Naulia Dawai: Na-u-lee-a Da-why 🇫🇯 🇳🇿 32-year-old 6’2” 238 lb Nadi, Fiji, native, married with 2 young children. Moved to New Zealand in 2011 playing club rugby at first in Southland before breaking into the NPC in 2013. In 2014 he made 5 appearances for Otago in the NPC followed by a team leading seven tries for Otago in the 2015 NPC season. From 2016 to 2018 he played at Connacht in the Pro14. He has 8 caps for Fiji and can play all three positions in the back-row. Hear Naulia talk about his experience with the Flying Fijians national team here.
Evan Geist: Guyst 🇺🇸 25-year-old 6’2″ 235 lb back-row and Denver native, played baseball, football, basketball growing up and started playing rugby his senior year of high school. Received a BS in Exercise Science from Colorado State where he continued developing his rugby career. He likes tattoos, drawing, metal and fishing, and volunteers at the New England aquarium in the turtle rescue department. Sea turtle is his spirit animal and used to be a screamer in the metal band A Flood Foretold. Evan was selected for the USA U20s Junior All-Americans in 2013 and has played for the Denver Barbarians and Meraloma in the British Columbia premier competition. Evan joined the Free Jacks for the spring exhibition season in 2019.
Pago Haini: Pag-o Hi-ee-nee 🇺🇸🇳🇿 27-year-old 6’1” 232 lb back-row born in American Samoa. He then attended St Joseph College, a well-known rugby school in Samoa before receiving a Rugby/Academic scholarship to attend Churchie, Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He then went to Wellington, NZ, to attend Victoria University before migrating to the USA after being called into the USA Men’s Sevens team in 2015. He has played for Churchie 1st XV, Samoa U19s, Wellington U20s, Wellington Lions trialist, Old Boys University, Marist St Pats, Santa Monica, USA Islanders, and the Houston SaberCats in Year 1 of the MLR.
Brad Hemopo: Hem-o-po 🇳🇿 24-year-old 6’4” 254 lb big ball carrying loose forward who can back up at lock, Brad was born in New Zealand. He is athletic, explosive and rumor has it jumped between wing and no.8 in high school while starting for the highly talented Christchurch Boys HS 1st XV before being selected for the NZ Secondary Schools Barbarians. “Overall he is just a good down to earth lad with excellent character.” He was a NZ U20 trialist, has played with Canterbury Development, was the University of Canterbury Player of the Year in 2017, and has spent time with the Manly Marlins in Sydney’s Shute Shield. At one stage Brad recorded a 19.6 on the YoYo while carrying 254 lb—that is pretty good for a big fella!
Owen Hundt: Hunt 🇺🇸 21-year-old 6’2 ½” 225 lb back-row from Cleveland, Ohio, Owen attended St. Edward High School and played rugby with Black Pirate RFC. He was a four-time All-Ohio All-Star and a 2016 All-American. Owen spent the summer with the Dunedin Rugby Sharks who compete in the Men’s Premier Club Rugby competition in Otago, New Zealand. Owen has also been training as a part of the Mitre10 Wider Training squad for Otago Rugby Team this summer, an opportunity that will be beneficial for his development going in to his first season in the USMLR next year. Owen has played for 1823/Tiger, Ponsonby U20s, Glendale, and Mystic River and was #2 in country for Judo as a youngster. Hear from Owen here on his rugby journey.
Jon Kokinda: Koe-kin-da 🇺🇸 Originally from outside of Philadelphia, this 34-year-old 5’9″ 200 lb open-side flanker is a long time Mystic River captain, winning 2 national championships with the club. A former wrestler Jon graduated with a BA Political Science from Bloomsburg State. Married with 3 children, Jon is a Corporate Sales Manager at Talend software.
Ollie Engelhart: All-ee Ang-L-hart 🇭🇰🇺🇸 5’12” 180 lb 23-year-old American citizen, Hong Kong raised, he attended the Island School, playing for Hong Kong Football Club starting out doing minis Sunday morning at 7am! Ollie was a Dartmouth Rugby co-captain in 2018 graduating with a degree in International Relations & a minor in Chinese where he helped lead the team to a National D1AA runner-up trophy, along the way becoming a US Collegiate All-American. Ollie has played every position in the backline competitively, and has also competed in swimming, triathlon, ultramarathon, adventure racing, track, and squash. His Spirit animal is a Husky, no surprise, as he loves to run. In 2015 Ollie launched “The Great Wall Project,” a 30-day expedition recording GPS data of unmapped section of the Great Wall of China, to promote conservation. He has been involved in the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, having in 2012 helped develop programs for underprivileged students in townships in South Africa that utilizes community and sports as a tool for social change. Ollie is an exceptionally diligent working who is passionate about making the world a better place, and you see that come out in his environmental focus and desire to help in our community, two tenants of the New England Free Jacks. Ollie is a certified sailing instructor, rugby coach, and bartender—just in case you ever need to be tossing a ball around a boat while chasing shots.
John Poland: Po-land 🇮🇪 22-year-old 5’7” 170 lb Ballinora, Cork, Ireland native, John has been capped at the Under-19 and Under-20 level for Ireland, earning Man-of-the-Match honors in the 2016 Six Nations U20s opening clash with Wales. Originally playing for Sundays Well beginning at age 5 where is father had been a player and coach, John ended up playing club rugby for Cork Constitution and then UCC, after captaining the Presentation Brothers College team during the Munster Schools Senior Cup. He was an instrumental part in the Munster A squad that won the 2016–17 British and Irish Cup, while managing his university studies. He made his Munster senior team debut in the PRO14 against Zebre in February 2018, that same spring being named a UCC Sports Star Award scholarship winner. John will graduate with a BSc Finance from the University of College Cork in October 2019.
Erik Thompson: Tomp-sun 🇺🇸 24-year-old 5’11” 185 lb Mission Viejo, CA, native, Erik began playing rugby at 10 years old, eventually becoming a 3-time All-American, once in High School, and twice for the US Under-20s national team. In 2014 he was named the Junior World Rugby Trophy Bronze Medalist MVP. In addition to rugby he competed in track and football in high school. Erik graduated from the prestigious University of California-Los Angeles in 2017 with a degree in Political Science, International Relations and Affairs. While at UCLA he was active serving as a Board member on the Bruin Political Union—a student group focused on spreading non-partisan political discourse throughout campus. He has spent time studying international relations at the London School of Economics while playing for LSE as well as the historic Blackheath Rugby Club. He long competed with Santa Monica back home in Los Angeles, and in the last couple of years has starred for Mystic River, helping the club to a USA Rugby Men’s D1 National Championship. In addition to being one of the first Free Jacks, Erik is an Information Security Consultant at Oracle while Studying International Security at the Harvard Extension School with current coursework focusing on cyber-politics and research on how the internet has altered international governance.
Timothée Guillimin: Tim-o-tay Gee-a-ma 🇫🇷 23-year-old 5’10” 185 lb native of Montpelier, France, Timothée began playing rugby at 6 years old and attended schools College Capouchiné and Lycée Jean Moulin, before attending college at both UFR STAPS Montpellier and DUT GACO Agen. He was selected for both the French National U16 and U18 teams, before playing in the European Challenge Cup for Agen. In 2017 Tim played in the MLR with the Austin Elite, and no surprise became second in the inaugural MLR season in both scoring and conversions made. Tim has been a great addition to the Free Jacks backline since joining the club in the spring of 2019 at the latter end of the Cara Cup, equally comfortably in multiple backline positions, able to kick, run and pass at speed.
Tadhg Leader: Tie-g Lead-er 🇮🇪🇺🇸 27-year-old 6’2” 205 lb man, myth, ginger, born and raised Galwegian. Past pupil of “the Bish” and Cistercian College before playing for the Connacht Academy and helping the province to a U20 championship. Tadhg represented Ireland at the Under-19 and Under-20 levels before making multiple appearances for Connacht A in the British and Irish Cup before moving to Italy to play for club Rugby Badia ASD. Tadhg’s younger brother, Darragh, is a long-time contributor to the Connacht senior team in the Pro14.
Tadhg has long been a player and coach with the Boston Irish Wolfhounds while in the US over the years, and in the fall of 2018 Tadhg graduated from Lindenwood University in St Louis, MO, with a degree in sports management while also competing and coaching with the St Louis Royals Rugby Club. Captaining the San Diego Legion in the 2018 inaugural MLR season, he led the team as the top points scorer and a semi-final appearance. Tadhg became USA National Team Eagle #532 after being capped in the 2019 Americas Rugby Championship for the US against Chile, scoring his first try in many more to come moments after coming onto the pitch. Hear his thoughts on selection here. You can find Tadhg throughout the New England community connecting with youth, high school, college, and club players and coaches while sharing his experiences as a rugby professional and team leader.
Ahmad Harajly: A-med Ha-raj-lee 🇺🇸 25-year-old 6’4” 225 lb center and outside back born and raised in Dearborn, MI, Ahmad was a stand-out in pick up / street football growing up before picking up rugby his junior year of high school with the Dearborn Silverbacks at lock before moving to flyhalf the next year! Ahmad quickly became a force in the men’s club ranks with the Detroit Tradesmen before a trial with the USA Sevens team at an Olympic Recruitment camp in 2015. He took the opportunity and quickly became a capped national team member making his international debut in 7s that winter. He played with the Ohio Aviators before garnering time with the US 15s development team, the USA Selects in 2016. Throughout his rugby journey Ahmad has been managing a full-time job as a dialysis technician while studying to for a degree from Henry Ford College.
Peter Lupton: Pee-tah! Lup-ton 🇺🇸 37-year-old 5’11” 220 lb born in Whitehaven, Cumbria, England. A dual code footballer, Peter represented Wales in Rugby League from 2011 to 2014, captaining the Wales national rugby league team in 2014. He has had professional Rugby League club stints at London Broncos, Hull FC, Castleford, Crusaders RL, Workington Town, and Barrow Raiders. He has also played with Boston 13s over the last few years when not playing with the Boston Irish Wolfhounds. Peter is a Roofing Supervisor at TELCA in the greater Boston Area, and he, his wife, Lisa, and kids call Braintree, MA, home. Peter has been instrumental in the Free Jacks backline during the exhibition season, showing his prowess for finding the try line.
Liam Steel: Lee-am SteeeeL 🇳🇿 🇼🇸 28-year-old 5’11” 205 lb Kiwi who has represented Auckland throughout the age-grades. Liam represented the New Zealand Universities on multiple occasions and has played NPC/Mitre 10 for Auckland and Bay of Plenty and has spent time on both the Blues and Chiefs Super Rugby Development sides. Liam is a talented midfielder/outside back with an outstanding ability to read the game and is known for his acceleration and ability to get on the outsides of defenses. No surprise then that he was named the 2018 Bay of Plenty Steamers Back of the Year. Liam was recommended as a “worthy” Bachelor by the New Zealand press in 2015. Not afraid to jump in a boxing ring to help raise awareness for Testicular Cancer Liam will be a great addition to the Free Jacks commitment to helping to improve communities in New England through rugby.
Christian Adams: Kris-tian Ad-ams 🇺🇸 25-year-old 5’11” 223 lb Washington DC native, attended Perry Street Preparatory for high school where he began his rugby career in addition to basketball and serving as captain of the football team where he was also named team MVP. He earned High School All-American honors in rugby his senior year, touring Argentina in 2013 with the likes of fellow HSAAs Titi Lamositele (Saracens) and now MLR players Benjamin Cima, Scott Dean, Hanco Germishuys, Vili Helu, Siaosi Mahoni, Malcolm May, Michael Reid, and Joeli Tikoisuva. He was also selected to the Potomac Rugby Union All-Star Team his Senior year. Christian attended American International College in Springfield, MA, graduated with a B.S. Criminal Justice in 2017 before moving on to play for Mystic River. In college he was a multi-year All-American and a key to the successes of AIC. While Christian develops as an international wing & center in Boston he stays focused on his core mission of bettering the community through his current job as a Social Worker with the Department of Children and Families.
Danny Collins: Dan-e-al Pat-rick Coll-Lins 🇺🇸 6’1” 180 lb 25-year-old Abbington, Massachusetts, native picked up rugby with the youth program of the Boston Irish Wolfhounds and played football at Boston College High School. Danny has aspirations to be a police officer as he is currently a senior at UMass Boston, majoring in Criminal Justice. Danny, a multiple rugby High School All-American, now helps coach the Boston College High School perennial boys’ champions. Danny is a hard-hitting hard-working humble Bostonian representing so well many of the attributes of a Free Jack.
Steven Dazzo: 🇺🇸 27-year-old 6’0” 225 lb Arlington Heights, IL native, Steven attended Prospect Park High School. He played three year of Varsity baseball and football. He was the team captain in 2009 and in 2010, was All-Conference in 2009-2010, and All Area Offensive Player of the Year in 2010. Dazzo then attended Dartmouth College from 2011-2015, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He was a three-year starter in football, an All-ivy selection in 2013 and in 2014, and the team captain in 2014. It wasn’t until his Senior spring that Dazzo made the crossover to Rugby at Dartmouth, joining the program for the 7’s season competing at the collegiate Rugby Championship and Las Vegas Invitational in 2015. Based on his performance, he was Named as a USA Rugby Collegiate Honorable Mention Sevens All-American. He also appeared in the 2015 Stars and Stripes match. After graduating, Dazzo continued his rugby career and played for the Northeast Academy at the Las Vegas Invitational in 2016 and attended the Eagles Sevens Crossover Camp in 2017. Dazzo has played for Mystic River Rugby Club since 2015 and helped the team win the 2016 and 2018 USA Club Rugby Division 1 National Championship.
Peceli Rinakama: Pe-sell-ee Rin-a-kam-a 🇺🇸🇫🇯 31-year-old 5’9” 190 lb originally from Nasinu, Viti Levu, Fiji, Pecs has lived in the USA for many, many snows, playing for the Gentlemen of Aspen, Sacramento Lions, Metropolis, Bulldog 7s, Hartford Wanderers, and New Haven in the US club rugby scene through the years. He was part of the 2018 inaugural MLR season with the NOLA Gold fitting in as a utility back garnering repetitions at fullback, flyhalf, and wing. Pecs has a cheeky step, reads the game well, and has been known to score a try or two like this beauty against Munster A in the Cara Cup.
Beaudein Waaka: Bo-deen Wa-a-ka 🇳🇿 25-year-old 5’11” 200 lb former New Zealand All Blacks 7s pivot, Beaudein has played for Melville in Hamilton as well Clifton in Tikorangi before representing Taranaki for multiple years in the NPC/Mitre 10. A New Zealand Schools representative in high school he has been a part of the Chiefs Development Team and Hurricanes Preseason training squad in Super Rugby in years past. Currently with Manly in the Shute Shield in Sydney, this utility knife will be a great addition to making a strong Free Jacks backline. Beaudein’s sister, Stacey, debuted for the Black Ferns, the New Zealand Women’s National Team, the same year he started his journey with the All Blacks Sevens.
Poasa Waqanibau: Po-os-a Wa-can-ee-bow 🇫🇯🇳🇿 25-year-old 6’2” 229 lb hails from Kuku in Tailevu, Fiji, the second oldest of four siblings, played for the Fiji Under 20s in 2014 before moving to New Zealand where he became a quick sensation as the top try scorer for Border RFC in the Wanganui Premier Club competition. From there he was quickly picked up by the Canterbury NPC/Mitre10 team and then picking up reps in the Super Rugby season for the Crusader Knights, the development team of Super Rugby’s perennial champion Crusaders. In 2015 he was selected for the Fiji Warriors in the Pacific Challenge and in 2018 he represented the Fiji Drua in the NRC. Poasa’s father passed away a few years ago and his mother sold pudding so Poasa would have rugby boots and bus fare to go train with the Fiji U20s in preparation for the Junior World Championship. At all levels Poasa has shown to be hard-working and humble—very FreeJackian.
Mitch Wilson: 🇦🇺🇺🇸 5’9” 175 lb native of Sydney, Australia, moved to the US with his family making Oviedo, Florida, home in high school and quickly became a rugby standout. Numerous age-grade accolades and All-American team selections, Mitch settled quickly into life at Life University, winning 3, wow, 3 USA Rugby D1A National Championships over 4 years while serving the team as Captain for the last 3. He has been named a USA Rugby Collegiate All-American 4 times, serving as Captain of the 2018 team that handled the Glendale Raptors in summer off-season play. Hear Mitch discuss leading the Collegiate All-Americans. Mitch graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Business Administration this spring. A humble hard-working athlete Mitch talks here about the legacy of the Curt Huckaby Series here. When he wasn’t studying or chasing a ball around he found the energy to be a Coach / Mentor for Atlanta Youth Rugby the last couple of years and before that rolled up his sleeves as a Trucks Team Manager for 1-800-Got-Junk!
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