Austin Gilgronis signed Sebastian de Chaves for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 30-year-old lock is 6’8 and 265lbs.
Sebastian is from Johannesburg, South Africa, and attended De La Salle Holy Cross College. In 2009 he played with the Gold Lions U19s and advanced to the Currie Cup U19s Final. By 2012 he played with the team in the Vodacom Cup.
His performance with the U19s led to his selection for the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship for the South Africa U20s in Argentina. The team finished in third place after a win over England.
During the 2012-2013 season, he moved to Mont-de-Marsan in the French Top 14, making 13 appearances and starting all six matches in the Amlin Challenge. From 2013-2016 he played in the English Premiership with Leicester Tigers, before moving to the London Irish from 2016-2019. He then signed with the Newcastle Falcons for the 2019-2020 season, before signing a short-term contract to complete 2020 with the London Irish.
During his time in the English Premiership, he played in 56 matches, starting 27.
Sebastian is qualified to represent South Africa, Portugal, and England.
Austin Gilgronis Comments
We’re going to shock some people, why can’t we win it next season?” says de Chaves. Sebastian de Chaves has won everywhere he’s gone and doesn’t look to stop now.
AGs head coach Sam Harris doesn’t underestimate de Chaves’ potential impact on his AGs, “Seb is a real find, he brings a wealth of experience and is match hardened from the Premiership,” says Harris. “Yes he’s tall and a great lineout operator, but he brings us so much more.”
De Chaves will arrive in Austin this January coming off a short-term stint to finish the Premiership season with the London Irish.
The 30-year-old has two RFU Championship titles and the 2016 RFU Players’ Player of the year award collected on his mantle from his last three seasons in the Championship. In two of those seasons, he helped both the London Irish and the Newcastle Falcons to Premiership promotion.
Introduction to MLR
De Chaves first heard of Major League Rugby two years ago when he saw Matthieu Bastareaud and Ma’a Nonu sign with New York and San Diego respectively. Then a few of his London Irish teammates made the move to America and MLR and captured his interest. “A few more boys became interested in the MLR and then they went over and came back for the offseason and then actually in speaking with the boys and how they spoke about the actual level of the MLR and how it’s really competitive and that there’s quite a passionate group of fans in America, that’s really when I became interested.”
It was De Chaves’ former London Irish teammate Bryce Campbell that gave the lock all the answers he needed to set gears in motion to a potential move to America and Major League Rugby.
“I played with Bryce Campbell at London Irish and he and I are good mates, he lived just down the road from me, and he told me had signed for Austin and he spoke about how it was going to be a really exciting year and that he was looking forward to it,” says De Chaves. “Then a few months ago the AGs contacted my agent and I bounced more questions off Bryce and it sounded like Austin had a good setup. Then I spoke with the head coach Sam Harris and he is a young, exciting, ambitious head coach and he seemed like just the right man for this team and I made up my mind then and there and just set to work on getting the paperwork done.”
Harris’ recruiting pitch has made a notable impression on several of the new signings this offseason. What De Chaves liked most is that Harris threw out the cliches, “you see cliches a lot in professional sport, and being different and being completely yourself is something this team has said from the very start, from the first call with Sam to the Zoom meeting roulette it’s been, ‘we’re going to do things differently and do it our way.”’
Being different is nothing new to Sebastian de Chaves. The South African came from an academically-oriented school of only 300 students; a school that didn’t hold sports in the same regard as some of the powerhouse programs across South Africa. “I think I’m still the only player to come from De La Salle to go on to play for South Africa or any provincial side or in a professional setup like the Lions or the Stormers.” De Chaves owns the fact that he never comes into a new team with delusions of grandeur and links that back to being counted out based on his school. “I want to come in and be a good teammate and do whatever the team needs, that’s my M.O,” says de Chaves. “I pride myself on doing the stuff that doesn’t get noticed and doing it really well, I don’t need the flashy stuff that gets on the highlight reel.”
It’s clear that this newcomer has been following the league and keeping up with the latest MLR news and signings and it’s also clear that he believes this team can compete and win this coming season. “I think we’re good enough to win the MLR, we’re not just coming in to make up the numbers, everyone is talking about San Diego and all the big sides and I’m fine with that because we’re going to go about our business and we’re going to shock some teams.”
The AGs are not only getting a giant of a human, but an exceptional talent and a genuine team player.
Welcome to the AGs, Sebastian De Chaves!
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