The New Orleans Gold have signed Derrek Van Klein at loosehead prop to the inaugural Major League Rugby season.
Derrek grew up in Minnesota and attended Apple Valley High School and graduated in 2010. His College career was spent at the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art. While at UMD, he played rugby for the Penquins.
He was a leader while at UMD, playing back row before switiching to loosehead prop. The team advanced to the USA Rugby Collegiate D2 National Championships three consecutive years from 2013-2015, where they were second the first year and won consecutive national titles the following two years.
Derrek was recognized by Rugby Magazine for both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons as an All-American. For the 2014-15 season he was named as a USA Rugby Honorable Mention All-American.
After graduation from UMD, Derrek played for Metropolis Rugby Club in 2015 and James Bay in the British Columbia Premiership in 2016. Then he was signed to play professional rugby for the Ohio Aviators in 2016.
After the PRO Rugby season concluded, he moved back to northern Minnesota’s iron range, where he does custom home building. He also resumed playing for Metropolis RFC.
“Derrek Van Klein is great young prop! We are excited to have him with us.
“Derrek is a tough and physical young prop, after a few years in an outstandings College program working with Jeramy Katchuba and mary Swanstrom at University of Minnesota-Duluth.”
“He came to Metropolis and grew his game across the board, mainly as a really great scrummager under the excellent coaching of forwards coach Ash Horobin.”
He is big and mobile with Northern Minnesota farm boy strength. He gets around the field very well and understands the way we want to play at NOLA Gold.”
“I was very lucky enough to coach him while he was at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In Derrek’s time at UMB, he helped us to advance to three straight national championships, winning two times. He transitioned between eight-man and flanker his first couple of seasons and then found a home at loosehead prop. He was named Collegiate All-American (D2) for three straight seasons. He was also named Honorable Mention College All-American for all divisions his Senior year.”
“Thanks in a large part to his work in the front row, we had a very dominant scrum which usually dictated the outcome of many of our games. Derrek is a mobile player and is very skilled with the ball in hand. He is also aggressive on defense and has a high work rate around the pitch. His scrummaging has come a long way in the past four years and will continue to grow with more high level action.”
“I’m excited to get down to New Orleans and experience a different part of the USA. I’m looking forward to being back in a professional environment training and playing rugby full-time.”
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