Highly regarded Rugby Coach and Operation Manager Kevin Battle has joined the LA Giltinis as a key figure who will smooth the club’s entry to Major League Rugby.
Today’s announcement is a huge plus for the go-ahead club because Battle brings on board the vast experience of two decades across just about every level of American rugby.
Battle, 46, will take the role of Giltinis Rugby Operations manager which will include the Team Manager duties he filled for the USA Eagles at the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups.
Battle is another powerful investment in Californian rugby talent and intellect.
He has been running the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy since 2009 and is eager to join the progressive MLR ranks after being assistant coach of the Sacramento Express in the single season of PRO Rugby in 2016.
His myriad coaching, managerial and administrative posts have included, since 2012, the role of Commissioner at USA Rugby, College D1-A.
“One of the most exciting pieces is getting to establish our own culture and policies as a club from a clean slate,” Battle said.
“To have a new professional rugby franchise in my own backyard is something I really wanted to be a part of because Los Angeles has so much to offer.
“The Giltinis can take southern Californian rugby to the next level because I know there is so much depth in the youth ranks around Los Angeles.
“Those players will have something to aspire to and this club will do everything it can for rugby growth and development in the local community in both genders.”
Battle’s grasp of rugby logistics, with travel schedules and bringing a new squad together from seven countries, is a major positive in the short countdown to the 2021 MLR kick-off in March.
Battle stressed that the Giltinis were not going to be a professional team operating in isolation from the already vibrant LA rugby community.
“I played for Santa Barbara and I played against clubs like Belmont Shore, Santa Monica, Orange County, Back Bay and so on so I know the amount of athleticism and passion that exists,” Battle said.
“We are not coming in to dictate but to work with local clubs, enhance academies and create some exciting futures through rugby.
“American rugby being featured on TV is major because that gap always stunted the code’s growth.
“Everyone can read a rugby resume but when you talk to (general manager) Adam Freier and (head coach) Darren Coleman they are guys you want to be around.”
Battle adds to an already impressive off-field team at the Giltinis beside Freier, the former Wallaby, Coleman, assistant coach Stephen Hoiles, skills coach Orene Ai’i, scrum coach Alex Corbisiero and head of performance Michael Stephen.
“We had an overwhelming positive response for this role, with some incredible applicants, so it is no surprise we have landed someone of Kevin’s calibre,” Freier enthused.
“He has an amazing pedigree of rugby experience, from high performance programs through to youth and development Academies.
“With our squad having a lot of young, ambitious Californian rugby players, having someone who understands and values local talent is a real bonus for the club.
“The thing about Kevin is that he is a genuine rugby guy, who loves the game and wants it to do well in the US – that’s really infectious and so important as we build the foundation of our Giltinis Rugby Club.
“We are lucky to have him, and all of the staff we have recruited to date.”
The Giltinis will kick off their debut MLR campaign at home against the Dallas Jackals on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 5.30pm (PT). Stay tuned for the on-sale date for tickets and further details.