New York Native Will Burke Signs with the Jackals
Will grew up in Alexander, New York, a city West of Buffalo. It was not until his time at University of Buffalo that he began playing rugby. Will says it happened on a fluke; “I was walking through the student union when a student asked if I played football. He then invited me to a training session the following day.” After a couple of training sessions he was hooked and was named to the 1st team.
Will played rugby all 4 years at the University at Buffalo where he captained the squad for 2 of the seasons. He earned honorable mention for All-Conference in Rugby East. Will was also selected for the All-Conference Rugby East 1st team.
After finishing college in 2018, Will continued his rugby career playing for the Buffalo Rugby Club. He joined the club during their playoff run where they finished 7th in the country in Men’s D2 rugby. Will then moved to Northern Ireland and played for Lurgan RFC. After 4 months, he had to move back to the US. Will says, “I was devastated because I had just gotten everything I had been working for ripped out from under me.”
Back in the states, Will returned to training and playing with Buffalo RFC. After playing for Buffalo in the league championship game, Will was invited to MLR’s Rugby United New York training camp. He earned a contract and went on to earn 2 caps in the first two games of the shortened 2020 MLR season.
When asked why he fell in love with the sport so quickly, Will said, “because of the culture and camaraderie that didn’t match any team sport I played before.” He continued, “Rugby is unlike any other team sport in the world, you truly need all 15 men on the pitch working together to find success. It is a shoulder to shoulder sport with no room for arrogant and cocky players.”
Will says, “It’s exciting to be a part of an expansion franchise in the MLR. By the Jackals trading foreign spots for more draft picks, it shows how serious they are about building rugby in America.” Will says he is also excited to work with Coach Clarke. “He seems like the best fit for me as a player and I think with him as a coach I will be a great addition to the squad he has assembled in Dallas.”
Will will be accompanied by his long-term girlfriend Paige and their dog, Kygo. He says, “deep down I’ve always wanted to live in the south and feel like it’s a good fit.” Welcome to the pack Will!
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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