The LA Giltinis will tap into the vast international experience of Canadian high-performer DTH van der Merwe after signing the 61-Test standout for two years.
Today’s announcement is a huge boost to the new Major League Rugby club because he offers proven class, leadership and stability ahead of the season kick-off in March.
Van der Merwe, 34, will be one of the best credentialed North American talents in MLR with his pedigree of four Rugby World Cups and stints at four top clubs in the United Kingdom.
One of Canada’s all time great winger-centre proved a prolific try-scorer (38) over a 13-year Test career (2006-19).
Van der Merwe is excited to be part of MLR’s expansion and the significant role the Giltinis can play in the growth of United States and Canadian rugby.
“It’s a wonderful and rare opportunity to be part of a brand-new franchise where you help set the mottos, the goals, the way the team is run and how high it flies,” van der Merwe said.
“I only see big benefits for Canadian and US rugby because, in the years down the line, kids at school will be looking at the Giltinis and MLR players with the thought, ‘I want to be like them’.
“Personally, I’m really buzzing to play in the sun in a city so fanatical about sports because Los Angeles was the only place I wanted to be being so close to home in Canada.”
In March, van der Merwe finished a decorated career with Scotland’s Glasgow Warriors where he set the all-time try-scoring record (54 in 123 appearances) with his pace and evasive running.
He won two PRO12 titles with the Warriors (2014-15) and Welsh club Scarlets (2016-17) so the finisher knows what a winning culture looks like.
“I was part of the Glasgow Warriors in the early years and when they built into a team that sold out their stadium and had sponsors queueing,” van der Merwe said.
“(Head coach) Darren Coleman speaks with that same passion and vision for the Giltinis and it’s exciting we can set up strongly and benefit future generations.
“To now be a part of MLR, I can hopefully help lay a bit of a path for young North American players into the future.”
A tune-up at the World Tens in Bermuda (in October-November) was perfect after a longer than expected break, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Father-of-three van der Merwe will be refreshed when he hits MLR.
“DTH was one of the first players on the radar for the Giltinis and the introduction came through a mutual friend from my time in Canada coaching in Calgary,” coach Coleman said.
“He has been Canada’s premier back for years and I’m really excited to have him part of the new franchise.
“He’s a genuine athlete, fast, agile and aggressive, and he’ll be a great mentor for younger backs in our squad.”
The Giltinis will kick off their MLR campaign on the weekend of March 20, 2021, with tickets being available by the end of this year.