Dallas Jackals Name Local Clubs As Development Pathway Affiliates
The Dallas Jackals are proud to announce Dallas Rugby Football Club and Dallas Harlequins Rugby Football Club as Division 1 Affiliate Clubs. Dallas RFC and the Harlequins will play a key role in extending the performance pathway for domestic players.
The Dallas Jackals and the two affiliate clubs share a common goal of increasing rugby awareness and participation in DFW. Together, the clubs aim to spread the core values of rugby and support the local rugby community. Since developing domestic talent is key to the growth of the sport and Major League Rugby, the affiliation will help create a viable performance pathway for athletes who aspire to become professional rugby players.
Head Coach and Director of Rugby Allen Clarke said, “This affiliation is great news for the growth of rugby in the DFW area. It forges links from grassroots to the professional game for men’s, women’s, youth, and high school programs.” He continued, “I look forward to establishing quality relationships with both clubs and supporting one another in our common love of rugby and pursuit for success.”
Dallas RFC was established in 1968 as a charter member of Texas Rugby Union (TRU) and has consistently been at the top of the USA Rugby charts for number of registered players over the past five years. The club fields four men’s sides (Division 1 to Division 4), a women’s Division 2 team, three 7’s sides, and manages a youth and high school program.
“We are extremely excited to partner with the Dallas Jackals to continue to make DFW one of the premier rugby destinations in the US,” said Filip Keuppens, Dallas RFC’s Director of Rugby. “Creating a local pathway to professional competition through high level club play is critical to the development of domestic players. We can’t wait to get back on the pitch as the Jackals affiliate while we continue our annual pursuit of winning USA Rugby National Championships.”
Founded in 1971, the Harlequins are an official affiliate of the London Harlequins and were the first TRU club to defeat an international opponent. The club supports three men’s teams (Division 1, 3 and U23), a women’s Division 1 team, two 7’s sides, a boy’s high school squad, and a gentlemen’s team.
Harlequins President John Conmee said, “From our first meeting with Scott and Elaine, it was clear the Jackals aligned with our values. Having an affiliation with the Jackals provides local athletes with professional aspirations the ability to work towards their personal goals while remaining in the DFW area. We look forward to seeing our great partnership evolve and grow, and as a result, the future of rugby in America.”
Working with the affiliate clubs allows for the exploration of securing additional game time for the Jackals’ Development Players at the Division 1 level. The Jackals will also extend further support and development opportunities to Dallas RFC and Harlequins players and coaches. As the Development Players develop their skills and as the need arises, they will have the opportunity to be called up to compete with the MLR squad.
“We love that Dallas RFC and the Harlequins have both been in DFW for over 50 years,” said Jackals President Scott Sonju, “We look forward to a symbiotic relationship that helps all of our clubs thrive, and more importantly, helps the sport thrive in North Texas and beyond.”
Assistant GM and Attack Coach Elaine Vassie, who spearheads the Jackals’ high performance pathway and was instrumental in forging the Dallas RFC and Harlequins affiliations said, “At the core of the Jackals vision is enhancing the opportunities for US qualified players to advance within the game. Starting with the Dallas RFC and Harlequins affiliation is a really positive first step and indicative of some of the longer term aims to work with players and clubs in our community.”
The Jackals Development Program allows domestic-based rugby players to fully immerse themselves within our high performance program as they aspire to secure professional rugby contracts. Every week the Development Players will train on and off the pitch with the professional players gaining valuable skills and experience.
Kelly Kolberg and Matt Frings were named as Development Players on August 31. Kelly, a long-time Dallas RFC player and former Houston SaberCats team reserve, is excited to represent his home city of Dallas. Matt, current Harlequins Strength and Conditioning Coach, was identified by Jackals coaching staff through his time playing for the Quins since 2018.
Along with Matt and Kelly, the Jackals have signed four additional Development Players, Ryheem Powell, Chaz Schwenk, Adonnis Lee-Johnson, and Henry Hall, who will train alongside the professional players throughout the season. With more development players to be announced, the Jackals aim to provide 10 development contracts.
To be considered and stay updated on potential try-outs, fill out the Player Registration Form.
About Dallas Jackals —
The Dallas Jackals are a professional rugby team of Major League Rugby (MLR), the highest level of rugby competition in North America. The Jackals were named as an expansion team in 2020 and will play their inaugural season in 2022 at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The team’s central mission is to develop domestic talent to a world-class level of play and professionalism while strengthening the high performance pathway in DFW by supporting the local clubs. Through proactive Community Outreach, the Jackals will exemplify and spread the passion of rugby by inspiring tradition, respect, family, and character on and off the pitch.
About MLR —
Major League Rugby is a professional sports league entering its fourth season and represents the highest level of competition in North America. The League evolved from seven teams in 2018, to 12 teams in 2021, featuring 11 from the United States and one from Canada. The competition follows an 18-week regular schedule for a chance to advance to the playoffs. Matches are televised on CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports 2, ESPN+, Facebook Live (for international viewers) and on different platforms in each local market. MLR prides itself on its incredible athletes, the passionate community behind them, and its strong values of Respect, Inclusivity, and Tradition.
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