Adam Kleeberger has a signed a professional rugby contract with London Scottish.

Adam Kleeberger has a signed a professional rugby contract with London Scottish.

Kleeberger signs first professional rugby contract

South Surrey rugby player, who starred for Canada at the Rugby World Cup, signs a pro deal with London Scottish FC.

Adam Kleeberger’s beard may be gone, but the 27-year-old South Surrey rugby player now has something even more impressive – a professional rugby contract.

Last week, Kleeberger, a former Bayside Sharks youth player now living and training in Victoria, announced he had signed a professional contract with London Scottish FC for the duration of the 2011/12 Rugby Football Union season.

He arrived in London last week, announcing on his Twitter page (@AKleebs) that he was “on the ground in London, looking forward to getting back on the field, and thankful to London Scottish for the opportunity.”

Kleeberger, who will play as a back-row forward for Scottish, was unavailable for comment by Peace Arch News’ deadlines.

Kleeberger made headlines in the fall while starring for Canada’s national team at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

At first, his facial hair – he had a Viking-esque beard – drew plenty of attention. Throughout the World Cup, which ended Oct. 23, Kleeberger and his beard was the subject of numerous stories in the local, national and international media.

His hirsute appearance even spawned a popular Twitter hashtag – #kleebergersbeard – as fans began to take a liking to the Semiahmoo Secondary grad.

Upon his return to Canada, his beard was shaved off by comedian and TV host Rick Mercer as part of a segment of the CBC show, The Rick Mercer Report.

As part of the beard-shaving, Kleeberger spearheaded a Shear The Beard campaign, which raised $5,700 for charity.

His play on the pitch garnered him plenty of accolades, too. He was named man-of-the-match in Canada’s tournament-opening victory over Tonga – a performance which no doubt impressed coaches with London Scottish.

“Adam will be a very important player for us over the remainder of the season. He is an international player who has performed to a high level on the biggest stage of them all, and he will add a greater physical edge to our play,” said Scottish head coach Simon Amor.

“He was an iconic player in New Zealand, and his rugby reputation speaks for itself. I am delighted to welcome him to London Scottish, and look forward to seeing what he can do.”

Kleeberger was available to debut with his new team Dec. 26 against Scottish side Moseley, and he is expected to be in the lineup Jan. 7 when London Scottish faces Plymouth Albion.