The New England Free Jacks Re-signed Erich De Jager through the Major League Rugby 2022 season. The 25-year-old tighthead prop (26 in February) is 6’2 and 260lbs.
Eric played 1080 minutes in 16 matches, starting 15, and scored 2 tries for the Free jacks in 2021. Following the season, he returned to South Africa and played with the Griquas.
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
“Erich had an outstanding debut year within MLR picking up our ‘Forward of the Year’ award, a testament to his dependability week-in and week-out,” commented Free Jacks Performance Director, Tom Kindley. “A great scrummaging tighthead and pillar of the pack, Erich also impressed around the park, showing some deft touches and inspiring his teammates on defense. A really kind, easy-going bloke, we are looking forward to seeing his game continue to develop this season.”
The Free Jacks scrum remains sturdy with de Jager’s return. A crucial member of the New England forward pack, Erich de Jager provides a superb defensive presence that will aid in the success of the Free Jacks. Prepare for a phenomenal season from “Tarzan” as we head into the 2022 MLR season.