History of the LA Giltinis and Rugby in LA
In May 2020, Major League Rugby (MLR) announced that Los Angeles was officially awarded a franchise for the 2021 MLR season.
The new team announced the ‘LA Giltinis’, was named after a premium cocktail based on the Martini, with the ownership of the LA Giltinis primarily residing with Loyals Rugby, a Rugby investment company founded in Australia.
Shute Shield winning and highly regarded Australian coach, Darren Coleman was been appointed Head Coach. Former Wallaby and Australian Sevens Coach, Stephan Hoiles was appointed his deputy.
Another former Wallaby, Adam Freier, was appointment the Club’s inaugural General Manager in October, following a decorated sports administration and media career in Sydney and Melbourne.
Throughout 2020 and the earlier part of 2021, the Giltinis announced their maiden player roster featuring many celebrated internationals and Californian and North America Rugby stars.
In late February 2021, the Giltinis have announced their commitment to the city by signing a long-term deal with the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
In August 2021, LA Giltinis won their first Major League Rugby Championship final with a decisive 31-17 victory over Rugby ATL.
In front of a record breaking crowd of just short of 7,500 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Giltinis were second professional team ever in USA histroy to win a title in thier madien season.
It was a triumph that reflected everything the Giltinis have built in Los Angeles since starting life as a new MLR club last year during the middle of a global pandemic.
LA GILTINIS 31
Tries: John Ryberg (20 min, 22), DTH van der Merwe (53)
Conversion: Matt Giteau (20, 53)
Penalty goal: Matt Giteau (18, 44, 70), Luke Burton (75)
RUGBY ATL 17
Try: Marko Janse van Rensburg (35), Ross Deacon (77)
Conversion: Kurt Coleman (35, 77)
Penalty goal: Kurt Coleman (15)
Half-time: 15-10 Giltinis
History of the MLR
Today, American rugby is growing at a dramatic pace. As American’s interest in rugby has begun to catch up with the rugby frenzy felt throughout the rest of the world, the need for a professional association became clear.
In 2017, driven by our passion for the game, Major League Rugby was formed with the mission of driving North American rugby to the highest levels, as a professional sport and an avenue for young men and women to participate in sports, and learn about the values that are at the core of our game: Respect, Inclusivity, and Tradition.
As Major League Rugby continues to grow and cement itself in the professional sports landscape, the goal remains the same: to grow the game of rugby.
Major League Rugby has continued to create rugby pathways with the Collegiate Draft, development of youth programs, and continued recognition and support of the amazing athletes within the League that are dedicated to growing the game.
The very first rugby game in the U.S. was played in 1875 in Boston between McGill and Harvard. Since that first game, American rugby has claimed the gold medal in the 1920 Olympics and continued to attract players and fans alike.
American rugby dates back to the 1800s, where variations of American football, rugby, and soccer were played at universities on the East Coast. During the second half of the century, rugby began to spread across the US, moving from university to university. The game spread from the Northeast out West by way of Texas and Utah. The growth was slowed by the emergence of American football.
Regardless, rugby continued to grow through the early 1900s. Between 1905 and 1913, the US received regular visits from New Zealand and Australian touring sides, at a time where gridiron football was receiving criticism for being too rough.
In 1924, American rugby reached the pinnacle of its early 20th-century success when a motley group of Stanford rugby players beats France to win an Olympic Gold Medal. This came after being initially denied entrance to the country by customs officials. The win in Paris caused an uproar, forcing the Americans to battle a hostile crowd to exit the stadium. Rugby was subsequently removed as an Olympic sport, and the United States reigned as Olympic champions until the game was reintroduced in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.