The New England Free Jacks signed Pago Haini (Pagopagohokma Taeaomua Haini) for the 2020 Major League Rugby season. The 27-year-old No.8 is 6’1″ and 232 lbs. He played for the team during the team’s 2019 exhibition and was a key Cara Cup contributor.
Pago was born in American Samoa and grew up in Samoa (Western Samoan). He then attended St Joseph College, a well-known rugby school in Samoa before receiving a Rugby/Academic scholarship to attend Churchie, Anglican Church Grammar School in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He then went to Wellington to attend Victoria University before migrating to the USA.
Pago played rugby for the Churchie 1st XV 2008-09, Samoan U19s 2010, Samoa High Performance Unit in 2010, Wellington U20s 2011, trialed for Wellington Lions Train On Squad 2012, Wellington Samoan 2012-2016 (plays in the Hurricanes Development Sides Competition) and club rugby for Old Boys University Wellington 2011-2012, and Marist St. Pats RFC in the Wellington Rugby Union’s Swindale Shield and Jubilee Cup Premier from 2013-2016.
Pago debuted for the Eagles 7s at the Wellington Sevens in 2017 and played in one additional HSBC Sevens Series stop. In 2017 he played with the Santa Monica Rugby Club Dolphins and was a player-coach for their sevens team. He also played with the USA Islanders against the Saracens in Bermuda in August 2017.
Pago then signed with the Houston SaberCats for the 2017-2018 season. Coach Fitzpatrick said, “Pago is a powerful ball-carrying back-row player who came to my attention via Grant A Cole of This Is Texas Rugby. Upon doing our homework on Pago we believe he will be a great fit for the Strikers and I look forward to helping him realize upon his undoubted ability. ”
Pago now turns his attention to helping the New England Free Jacks in their 2020 season. He started at No. 8 in his first match with the team against the Connacht Eagles on March 16 in the Cara Cup and concluded the exhibition season against Lansdowne FC in June.