New England Free Jacks Win 2023 MLR Title – Follow the Manawatu Connection as NPC Season Approaches
New England Free Jacks won the 2023 MLR title defeating San Diego Legion 25-24. There were 6 Canadians in the match, Andrew Quattrin, Conor Keys and Ben Lesage starting for New England, with Cole Keith and Spencer Jones on the bench. Michael Smith was on the bench for San Diego. New England had the largest number of Canadians on a USA based team roster, with 11 players used during the season.
The assistant coach of the Free Jacks, Mike Rogers, was announced as the new head coach of the Manawatu Turbos in the New Zealand NPC. Expect some Canadian Free Jacks players to be part of the training squad there and hopefully make an appearance during the season. Canadian prop Hubert Buydens, now coaching at the Pacific Pride Rugby Canada academy, spent a couple of seasons with the Turbos. If you want to keep up to date on the Manawatu Turbos season you can read this opinion piece in the local Manawatu newpaper.
The New England Free Jacks and the San Diego Legion scored three tries each in the Major League Rugby Championship Final in Chicago on Saturday, the boot of Jayson Potroz making the difference and giving New England their first US professional rugby union title.
The New Zealander Free Jacks fly-half was one of a number of international players on show at the SeatGeek Stadium outside Chicago with the 103-cap All Blacks center Maa Nonu turning out for the Legion, not long having turned 41.
Nonus mistake, spilling a pass on his own 22, gave New England the first try of the game, their Kiwi skipper, the flanker Mitch Jacobson, racing over the line. The Legion answered with a try of their own, the flanker Christian Poidevin son of the Australia openside great Simon Poidevin going over after a short lineout move and a snipe from Richard Judd, the Kiwi at scrum-half.
Canadian Participation MLR 2023 (click for larger image)