The New England Free Jacks signed Sam Beard for the 2020 and 2021 Major League Rugby seasons. The 29-year-old center is 6’0″ and 210 lbs.
Sam was born in Timaru, New Zealand and is pursuing an Honour’s Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Enterprise in Sport at Edinburgh Napier University where he has been enrolled since 2016.
He began playing rugby at age 7 for the U9s Timaru Old Boys. He played with South Canterbury in 2011 before moving to Christchurch to play with Burnside where he helped the team win the Hawkins Premier competition in 2012. This earned him a position with the Crusader Knights, the Crusaders Development team.
In 2013 he played for the Bay of Plenty in the Mitre 10 Cup before moving to Scotland to join Edinburgh later in 2013 in the PRO 14. He made 44 appearances with the club and reached the European Challenge Cup final in 2015. In 2016 he left for the Newport Gwent Dragons and played with the Dragons 34 times through 2018, as well as playing for Gala and for Boroughmuir.
Sam is qualified to play rugby for Wales through his grandfather who is from Monmouth, Wales.
In 2018 he returned to play with the Crusaders twice, making his debut against the French Barbarians and then against Western Force. He also played with Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup, playing in all 12 regular-season matches. Sam then signed a contract with the Cardiff RFC for 2019.
Sam has completed the World Rugby Level 2 coaching course. He had various coaching jobs in 2019. He was a coach at the School of Hard Knocks Charity on Cardiff from January through August, the Dragons Rugby U16 combined side, March through May, and since September has been a coach at Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire, England.
Sam will join the Free Jacks at the commencement of pre-season training this December and we are looking forward to welcoming Sam into an excited rugby community here in New England. Expect him to continue his leadership with the team, as well as his coaching pursuits.
New England Free Jacks Comments
“I’m looking forward to this new opportunity with the Free Jacks in Major League Rugby,” said Sam. “It’s exciting to be a part of this a new challenge to build rugby at the professional level in the US. This year is unique as the team is coming together for the first time and the season ahead can be anything the players and coaching staff want it to be, provided we work hard.”
“Sam is going to be a great addition to the Free Jacks backline,” said head coach, Josh Smith. “Sam brings attacking strength to the team and won’t be afraid to speak up and show what it takes to put in the hard yards on and off the field throughout the season.”