Houston SaberCats: Willie Perry-Jackson
Updated article Nov. 2, 2017
Willie Perry-Jackson graduated from Westbury High School in Houston where he played football and ran track.
Upon graduation from high school, he studied Mechanical Engineering at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. While at Lamar, he played rugby for the Lamar University Rugby Football Club. He later played rugby for the Seattle Saracens.
Perry-Jackson is a former engineer with the United States Army. He also worked with Electronics and Communication Engineering at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Perry-Jackson attended the Houston SaberCats Combines this past Summer and was signed to a contract as a wing.
Houston SaberCats & Rugby Promotion
Each Major League Rugby team is expected to not only promote professional rugby in the area, but is also expected to build an Academy program. This requires developing linkages with high schools and colleges in the area. It also requires appearing on the news, doing promotional clinics and in having coaches and players involved in the community.
The Houston Chronicle provided insight into the process of finding talented players like Willie Perry-Jackson from combines, as well as from other sources. Fitzpatrick said “I’m a firm believer in the cream rising to the top.” “Those that have the ability and the want to be a professional rugby player will appear on the radar. And we will pick them up and give them their opportunity.”
The search for players is extensive and The Houston Chronicle described the geographic task Fitzpatrick and his staff faced. “Between the trips all across the Greater Houston area – at 10,062 square miles, only slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts – the combines and the hyper-accelerated grapevine of the close-knit Houston rugby community, Fitzpatrick is confident that anyone with the desire and ability to play for him will have the chance.”
Why will rugby succeed in Houston
Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the United States with an estimated 2017 population of 2.4 million people. The Greater Houston metropolitan area, Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land, is a nine-county metropolitan area that is the fifth largest in the country with over 6.5 million people.
The oil and natural gas industry has draw a large number of Australian and European expatriates to the area and have embraced rugby in the area. Combine that with the explosion of youth and college rugby in the area, as well as Rugby Clubs like Houston Athletic Rugby Club, Houston United Rugby Club, West Houston Rugby Club, Bay Area Rugby Club and Katy Rugby Club, there is an expanding rugby audience.
When non playing residents of this area see this action packed sport, the fan base will continue to grow. That is why it is essential for all Houston SaberCats to promote rugby locally. The team is off to a flying start with players like Willie Perry-Jackson spreading the rugby message in Houston.