The Los Angeles Giltinis bring a professional rugby franchise to the city, looking to grow the game beyond the collegiate level.
By Benjamin Royer, Staff Writer
The Giltinis are not a new cocktail you will find in a Los Angeles bar, but a new sports franchise bringing the game of rugby to the city.
Major League Rugby was introduced in 2017 with the goal of making the sport more popular in the United States and Canada. Los Angeles earned an expansion bid for the 2020 season.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is the long-term home of the Giltinis as the historic stadium prepares for the 2028 Olympic games. Rugby was reintroduced to the Olympic games in 2016 and should be a part of the games in 2028 as well. The Giltinis team have gotten their start in the league and have a chance to grow exponentially.
“I have the utmost confidence in the LA Giltinis ownership group to lead the team to success, and to provide valuable support for MLR as a whole,” George Killebrew, commissioner of Major League Rugby said in a statement.
The Giltinis’ ownership group is an interesting organization. Loyals Rugby, the main stake in the ownership group, also owns the Austin Gilgronis who play in the same league.
Owning two teams in the same league is rare in America, but throughout Europe, it can be a regular occurrence.
The Giltinis got their start against New England at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It was a well-earned victory for the Giltinis as they soared past their opponents with a six-try performance by a score of 42-27.
“Just getting the win is the big feeling because there has been so much time, effort, angst and stress to get to the starting line,” said Darren Coleman, Giltinis’ head coach in a press release after the match. “Seeing the players binding up in the dressing room to sing the team song for the first time and what it meant there almost overshadowed what happened on the field.”
United States Rugby has been on the national stage since the late 1800s. The States send a national team to the world cup every four years, most recently in 2019. The national team securing its highest national ranking in history in 2019 was a good starting sign for the U.S. team.
There are currently 72 men’s teams at the collegiate level. Schools such as California Berkeley and Life University have sent their teams to the national championship with regularity.
Many collegiate teams stay at the club or quasi-varsity level as they try to secure varsity status with their Universities, but only some are full-varsity sports programs for their schools.
Academies attached to the teams in Major League Rugby and the collegiate draft for the league will try to find young athletes ready to make the teams and league stronger.
The Giltinis will have a lot to do to become staples of the Los Angeles community, but playing at a high level, in a historic location is a great start to build on.