Catching Up with Jackson Thiebes of Endicott College Men’s Rugby

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Endicott College’s Jackson Thiebes became the first student-athlete in men’s rugby history to sign a contract with the with the New England Free Jacks of Major League Rugby. (PHOTO COURTESY: Mike Connors)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @NoontimeRugby 

Earlier this month, Jackson Thiebes became the first-ever Endicott College men’s rugby player to ink his name on a professional contract with the New England Free Jacks of Major League Rugby (MLR).

The Montana native led the Gulls to an 11-0 record this fall, along with a pair of championships, too. Endicott defeated Salve Regina in both the CCRC Championship and NSCRO Northeast Regional Championship by a combined score of 109-27.

Theibes, who is currently a grad student at Endicott College, earned a trio of postseason awards, including the NSCRO Northeast Region Championship Most Valuable Player and NSCRO Men’s 15s All-Star Championship Impact Player (Northeast).

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Theibes to discuss the exciting news about joining the New England Free Jacks, who will begin competing in the MRL in 2020.

What’s your first memory of the sport? How did you get involved with rugby? 

My first memory of rugby was playing with my three older brothers and cousins from England. My cousins taught my brothers and I both rugby and cricket, while visiting us in Montana.

Did you play rugby in high school or with a club team? 

I started playing rugby for coach Dave Kenkel my junior year of high school with the Kalispell Black and Blue, which is a club program. Unfortunately, my high school doesn’t have a rugby program (currently), but the popularity of the sport is continuing to spread throughout the state of Montana.

What interested you in playing rugby at Endicott? Additionally, did you imagine your team would enjoy a very successful 2018 campaign, which included both a CCRC and NSCRO Championship? 

After I graduated from University of Montana, coach Kenkel contacted me about playing rugby at Endicott College. At the time, I was trying to extend my football career beyond Montana – I was training in California and Atlanta at our school’s pro day – but did not catch the eye of a single scout, so I reconnected with coach Kenkel to begin the application process to attend Endicott’s graduate program.

As for our squad this year, they were truly unselfish and played for each other. The freshmen were enthusiastic and ready to learn, while our upperclassmen had high expectations (for the 2018 season). The (upperclassmen) were great leaders.

What interested you continuing to play rugby at the professional level with the New England Free Jacks? 

I fell in love with rugby again by coming to Endicott and playing for coach Kenkel. My teammates and coaches on the Free Jacks have been amazing (thus far). They push each other to play your best and compete everyday.

How much have you followed the MRL and what do you think of the league’s current growth/expansion? 

The 2019 season will be starting next month and should be even better than it was during its inaugural season this year.  I think the league’s expansion is great for the sport, especially for young athletes across the country that want to learn more about rugby, while having a local team to root for, as well.

What does it mean to become the first member of the men’s rugby program at Endicott to sign a professional contract?

It’s a great honor.  I wanted to become a professional football player, but life has a way of closing doors and opening new ones, so signing a professional contract with the Free Jacks wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for my experience here at Endicott, along with my teammates and coaches.


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