NOLA Gold signed JP Du Plessis to a four-year contract through the 2024 Major League Rugby season after a trade and sign with San Diego Legion. The contract was the longest in the league’s history and is a statement to the league’s strength and projected growth.
American Rugby News clarified the trade and sign, indicating that “before the move, NOLA sent hooker Lindsey Stevens to the LA Giltinis in exchange for additional salary-cap headroom and LA’s 2nd round draft pick Stephen McLeish. The Gold then sent the cap space to San Diego in a straight swap for the rights to du Plessis.”
The 29-year-old center (20 in April) is 6’1″ and 210 lbs. He spent three seasons with San Diego Legion and in 2020 started three games.
In 2019 he was the MLR Back of the year and played in 17 of 18 matches, including the MLR Shield Final. He had 155 carries, 7 tries, and made 213 tackles. In 2018 he played 396 minutes in the 5 matches that he started.
He is from Kroonstad, South Africa, and attended Reitz School where he began playing rugby union before switching to Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch from 2007-09, majoring in Business/Commerce.
While at Paul Roos he played rugby with Western Province Academy, playing with the Under-16s in Grant Khomo Week in 2007 and with the Under-18s for Craven Week in 2009. The latter led to his selection to the National 2009 South African Schools team.
In 2010 he played rugby league for the Sydney Roosters, representing the Under-20s in the 2010 Toyota Cup.
In 2011 he played with the Super Rugby Melbourne Rebels and with Western Province with the Under-21s in the Provincial Championship. In 2012 he played with, Western Province in the 2012 Currie Cup and also with the Super Rugby Stormers.
He moved to France in 2013 to play with Top 14 team Montpellier, but after one match, a knee injury curtailed his season. During the 2014-15 season, he played with the Free State Cheetahs and with Free State XV in the 2015 Vodacom Cup. He then played with the Eastern Province Kings and the Southern Kings.
Du Plessis joined the San Diego Legion after the MLR season began in 2018. He immediately helped the team as they advanced to the MLR Semifinals. He was a key contributor to the team advancing to the MLR Shield Final in 2019 and helped the team jump out to an undefeated 5-0 season during the truncated 2020 season due to COVID-19.
NOLA Gold Comments
GM Ryan Fitzgerald indicated that “We are proud to welcome JP du Plessis and his family to Nola Gold. JP has been a 1st Team All MLR type player since this league has started. A player on both sides of the ball that you have to account for and plan around. A very tough, physical player in the midfield with innate competitiveness and veteran instincts to be in the right place at the right time.
A true professional in every sense of the word and a first class human being. JP will bring even more fire power to our already very competitive back line.”