New England Free Jacks

Defending champion Free Jacks ride fan support into 2024 home opener

Free Jacks GM Thomas Kindley says interest in the team has grown "exponentially."

New England Free Jacks

The Free Jacks went undefeated at Veterans Memorial Stadium in 2023 en route to a MLR championship.

BOSTON -- Coming off their most successful season in team history, the New England Free Jacks held their media day Wednesday on the campus of Suffolk University in Boston. The team's first home season match is Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m. ET in Quincy, Mass., where the club will raise a banner to celebrate the Free Jacks' 2023 Major League Rugby (MLR) title.

With the new season in its infancy, Head Coach Scott Mathie and General Manager Thomas Kindley shared their thoughts on how they feel going into the home opener this weekend.

"We are very excited; it's always exciting to come back home and play in front of our fans. The atmosphere at the ground is really awesome. To really get on the field, it's 15 of us, but it really feels like we have an extra person with the crowd, so that's something we are looking forward to," said Mathie.

Speaking about the crowd, Kindley shared his insight on how Free Jacks Rugby fans have grown and how fan interactions have helped the team on and off the field. 

"I think it has grown exponentially, more than anything through genuine human interactions. We have a bunch of hard-core fans and they've been generated by getting to know people in our organization," said Kindley.

The New England Free Jacks feel a close connection to the community that supports them.

"I have such a great appreciation for what we're doing at the Free Jacks because we're not only connecting with the opposition but we're connecting with our community," said Mathie.

The reigning champions are prepared to start a new chapter, aiming to defend their title and inspire a new wave of rugby fans for generations to come.

"There is no greater pressure than what we put on ourselves, so I think when we look back to the championship season last year, we never really spoke about the championship. It was always just week by week and that is the way it will continue," said Kindley.

Mathie added, "I think there is pressure with having won a championship, so it is like there is an expectation to win. We don't really focus on the win, we focus on the processes that if you do these things, then the win talks for itself."

With an opening-round 46-13 win at Anthem RC in Charlotte last week, the Free Jacks appear prepared to demonstrate their abilities again. Next up is Saturday's match against Old Glory DC, their closest rival, at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

"We beat them in the conference final last year. D.C. has pretty much become our closest rivals. It's always a pretty feisty affair," said Mathie.

Prior to kick off on Saturday, the Free Jacks will raise a banner to their 2023 title. As MLR champions, the Free Jacks have captured supporters' hearts near and far, transforming Veterans Memorial Stadium into a hub of fellowship and strong allegiance.

As the team takes to the field for their home game, they not only carry the hopes of their fans, but they do so for the time with a target on their back.

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