The New England Free Jacks signed Hendrik Willem Jacobus ‘Jaco’ Bezuidenhout for the 2024 Major League Rugby season. The 26-year-old No.8/flanker (27 in January) is 6’3″ and 225 lbs.
Jaco played 820 minutes in 11 starts for the SaberCats in 2022, however, as a result of a shoulder injury, he did not play for the team in 2023.
Jaco is from Pretoria, South Africa, and began playing rugby when he was 7. He attended Garsfontein High School. He also attended the University of Pretoria from 2016-2019, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and playing rugby with Tuks Rugby. The team was the Young Guns champion in 2016, Varsity Cup Champion in 2017 and 2021, USSA Champion from 2018-2020, Volcano Cup Champion in 2019, and 2019 Tuks Rugby Player of the Year. he also earned a postgraduate diploma from the University of Pretoria in 2020, in Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies.
In 2015 he was a member of the Blue Bulls Academy team for Craven Week. In 2017 he attended the South Africa U20 Junior Springbok Training camp. He played for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup in 2018, and for the Blue Bulls squad for the 2021 Currie Cup Premier Division, making his debut in Round 1 of the 2021 Currie Cup Premier Division against the Western Province.