Jackals Announce Developmental Players
Jackals Development Players are key to building rugby domestically. Training full time with the Jackals and placement with local clubs to gain game experience, the Developmental Players will have the opportunity to improve to MLR level of play as part of our high performance pathway.
Kelly grew up at the rugby pitch watching his dad play for Dallas RFC, better known as the Dallas Reds. He began playing at 11 years old, but due to the lack of teams in the area his playing time stopped shortly after. At 16 years old he began playing for the Dallas Reds, which jump-started his rugby career.
Kelly went on to play for Texas Rugby Union U19 and the 2003 North America West Indies Rugby Association (NAWIRA). Kelly also played for the USA U19 2002-2004. He played in the 2003 USA versus Canada in the Rugby World Cup Championship Qualifier and in 2004 in a qualifier against Guyana.
Continuing to build his career, he played in the IRB U19 World Championship in 2003 and 2004. In 2004, he was selected MVP for the USA U19 World Championship tournament. Through the years, Kelly was part of the 2002 and 2003 Texas Select Side, 2003 and 2004 West 15s side, and 2004 and 2007 West 7s.
Kelly then made the move to Dunedin, New Zealand. Here, he played for Harbour RFC’s 1st XV side from 2005-2009 with a short break playing for Eagle 7s pool in 2007. Kelly went to attend the 15s Eagle XVs camp in 2011 and 2014.
Kelly has taken part in a multitude of 7 tournaments including Republic of Texas 7s, Rugbytown 7s, the 2010 Atlantis to play in the Havana 7’s in Cuba, Tiger 7s tours to the Central Coast 7s in Australia, Shanghai 7s and twice in the Cancun 7s.
During his time with the Dallas Reds from 2010 to present, Kelly helped the club to many USA 15s Nationals. In 2019, Kelly joined the Houston SaberCats as a team reserve. When asked what he loves most about rugby, Kelly said “I love so much about the game but the exhaustion, physicality, tackling and full speed collisions the most.”
Kelly was born and raised in Dallas and is very excited to get the opportunity to represent his home city. “Playing the sport I love in the city I love is a dream come true,” Kelly said. Welcome to the pack Kelly!
Matt began playing rugby at 9 years old in his hometown of Nottingham, England for Nottingham RFC. Matt says, “this club blended the values of rugby with a performance focus which had a big impact on me growing up.” Along with rugby, Matt played soccer, but says “rugby is unique in the synergy that is required to produce an effective performance.”
Matt represented his county playing for Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire & Derbyshire RFU at the U18 and U20 level. He went on to be selected for the England North U20 side.
After high school Matt moved to Brisbane, Australia to play at the University of Queensland. This opportunity offered him the chance to experience a completely different style of rugby than he was accustomed to in the rain in the East midlands.
Following this Matt played for the Preston Grasshoppers, a club founded more than 150 years ago and competing in the National League 2 North. He played for the Grasshoppers until making the move to the US.
Once in the US, Matt joined the Dallas Harlequins as player and Strength & Conditioning Coach. While providing unmeasurable support to the players, Matt captained the D1 side for the 2020 season. He says, “working along such a diverse group of players, who are all committing their time for the love of the game, is fantastic. The Quins are a great reflection of the Dallas rugby community as a whole, which I am proud to be a part of.”
Matt says, “I think this is the beginning of something really special. The greatest sport in the world is going professional in one of the worlds most sports centered cities, it’s an exciting time. This really is an exciting opportunity for me, a great chance to test myself and learn from some of the best in the business.”
Matt is excited to continue his rugby career in Dallas. He calls Dallas his adopted home saying it is the perfect blend of Southern charm and city life. He says, “I have been fortunate to travel all over playing rugby, but Dallas is where I have laid my roots.” Welcome to the pack Matt!
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 2021. 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 13 teams in 2021, featuring 12 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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