The New England Free Jacks signed their second-round pick (#23) of the 2023 MLR Collegiate Draft, Junior Gafa, for the 2024 Major League Rugby season. The 22-year-old center (23 in March) is 5’10” and 215 lbs.
Junior was born in Apia, Samoa, before moving to San Pedro, California. He played rugby with the Back Bay SharksRugby Club, winning a National Championship and the Southern California Division in 2018. That year he also played with the USA Under-18s and was on the wider training squad for the Youth Olympics Rugby Sevens. In 2019 he played with the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy Sevens. Later he would play for the USA Under-20s.
Junior attended Brown University from 2019 through his graduation with a Bachelor’s Degree in History with a concentration on law. In 2022 he played in 7 games for the football team and was named to the Phil Steele All-Ivy 4th Team. He also played for the rugby team, winning the 2022 National Collegiate Rugby Championship. In 2023 he played with the NCR All-Stars National Champions New England Independents Reds, for the Peaks in the 2023 Collegiate Rugby Shield, and was selected to play with Atlantic Coast in the World Universities Rugby Invitational Tournament in Bordeaux, France.
Junior also trained with the USA Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina.