The LA Giltinis signed John Ryberg through the 2022 Major League Rugby season. The 28-year-old wing (29 in March) is 5’11”, and 235 lbs.
John started all five games on the left-wing in 2020 and was the leading try-scorer in MLR in 2019 with 13. In 2019 he played 1073 minutes in 14 matches, carried the ball 138times for 1567 meters, made 87 tackles, and kicked twice for 65 meters. He also had 25 linebreaks, 28 tackle breaks, and made 11 offloads. In 2018 he played 133 minutes in 4 matches, starting twice.
John is from Houston, Texas, but later moved to Iowa. He attended Xavier High School, which served the Cedar Rapids metropolitan area.
Following his graduation in 2010, he attended the University of Iowa, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He began playing rugby at 21 with the University of Iowa Rugby Club.
After graduating from Iowa in 2015, he moved to Denver and began playing with the Glendale Raptors in the Fall of 2015 and has played with the team ever since. In 2016 he helped the team win their second consecutive Pacific Rugby Premiership Championship.
The team branded the Glendale Raptors name in 2017 ahead of the 2018 Major League Rugby season with the amateur club named the Glendale Merlins. John has played for both.
John’s inaugural MLR season was disappointing, as he missed most of the season with a hamstring injury. The physical wing was back again by the Raptors Fall 2018 exhibition season and will be a force in 2019.
Those who don’t know John may find it interesting that “he has lived in Paris and London, and once had a pet goose named Dominique that he raised from a gosling and taught to fly.” If you meet him and get to talk, he may share some of these experiences.
LA Giltinis Comments
The LA Giltinis have continued to secure homegrown American talent with the exciting signing of power-running winger John Ryberg for two years.
Ryberg, 28, is the best example of the instant pulling power of the fresh franchise in the expanded 13-team Major League Rugby competition.
He knocked back offers from other MLR clubs to head to Los Angeles because of the cast of coaches and players being assembled to start something new with a bang.
Ryberg is 235lb (107kg) of muscle and authority and is certain to become a fan favourite with his steamrolling runs.
He brings three valuable seasons of MLR experience from the now-defunct Glendale/Colorado Raptors.
“The first draw for me is being part of a new team and laying down the foundations of something big in LA,” Ryberg said.
“A major part of that is having a great coaching staff and the vision of our head coach (Darren Coleman) with the entertaining type of rugby we are to play.
“I’m going to become a better player in this environment and feel nothing but the excitement that we can make a mark in MLR right from the start.”
Ryberg was a late starter to rugby, from American football, at 21 when at the University of Iowa but relishes his new sport and its physicality.
The Houston-born Ryberg plays a no-nonsense brand of rugby and defenders between him and the tryline always know what to expect.
“If there’s no way around a defender I’m going to go through them because that’s my job…finish the foundation set by the forwards,” Ryberg said matter-of-factly.
“Since I started in 2018, I’ve seen the fan base grow for MLR and the sport is only going to take off more and more with the big international names being attracted to the Giltinis and elsewhere.
“Twenty years from now, I want to see how big a success the Giltinis are and look back at where it all began with me playing a part.”
Joining former Raptors teammates like halfback Nick Boyer and prop Blake Rogers at the Giltinis brings in some ready-made and positive chemistry.
Having that understanding of travel demands and rival player profiles in MLR is a valuable head start for a squad being assembled from Australia, Scotland, Canada, the USA, Ireland, and other nations yet to be named.
“The big Texan is a ball of muscle who knows how to find the line as the Raptors’ top try-scorer in 2019,” Giltinis head coach Darren Coleman said.
“John has good speed, he’s robust, he bumps off tacklers, and is a genuine finisher who has just come on the radar of the USA Eagles.
“Our goal is to put a bit more finesse on his game, with passing and kicking, to just add to his dynamism.”
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