The New England Free Jacks signed Erich De Jager through the Major League Rugby 2022 season. The 24-year-old prop (25 in February) is 6’2 and 260lbs.
Erich was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and attended Hoërskool Brandwag. He played age-grade rugby with the Eastern Province Kings between 2009-2014, including representing the U18s cor Craven Week in 2013 and 2014.
Following his completion of high school, he moved to Bloemfontein and attended the Free State Cheetahs Academy in 2015, playing for the U19s. In 2016 and 2017 he played for the U21s and in 2016 he also played for the Griffons U20s. He also attended the University of the Free State.
Erich’s senior rugby career was launched in 2016 when he played for the Free State XV in the Currie Cup Qualification Series. In 2017 he played eight matches for the Free State XV in the 2017 Rugby Challenge before making his Currie Cup debut for the Cheetahs in the team’s 45–34 victory over the Pumas in Round Three.
In 2017-2018 he played for the Toyota Cheetahs Pro 14 side and made his debut in their match against the Welsh side, The Dragons, in Newport, and his home debut in their next match against the Cardiff Blues. He also was part of the 2019 Currie Cup-winning side, starting at Tight Head Prop in the Free State Cheetahs 32-29 victory over the Golden Lions at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein in front of 40,000 fans in August 2019. In 2019 he also resumed playing for the Griffons.
Look for “Tarzan”, as he is called, to make an impact for the Free jacks.
New England Free Jacks Comments
“I’m looking forward to joining what looks to be a strong Free Jacks unit and awesome community,” said de Jager. “I feel like I am only just starting to play my best rugby and can’t wait for the next challenge in a very exciting competition, Major League Rugby. I’m excited to see where we as a franchise can take rugby in New England.”
De Jager is a mobile prop and powerful scrummager that will add considerable strength to the Free Jacks front row. De Jager made his Pro14 and Currie Cup debut for the Cheetahs in 2017 and has since earned thirteen caps in the Guinness Pro14, nine caps in the Currie Cup for the Free State provincial-based side, and 20 caps in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
“Erich is a powerful ball-carrying tight head prop who loves a scrum,” beamed Free Jacks Head Coach Ryan Martin. “Erich provides versatility having played much of his rugby at loosehead until recently, where he was used predominantly as a specialty tight head with the Cheetahs. His high energy approach to the game is sure to have supporters on the edge of their seats and we are excited to see him show what he can do in New England this year.”
Join Tarzan and the Free Jacks for a virtual meet and greet, “News and Brews,” on Thursday, September 10th. Grab a Free Jacks IPA and join the virtual gathering and get to know the newest Free Jacks and the returning players. RSVP using the link here: https://www.freejacks.com/news-and-brews/.