The LA Giltinis signed former USA Eagle Langilangi Ahaaluma Haupeakui for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 31-year-old back row is 6’1″ and 255 lbs.
Langilangi attended Aragon High School, and then the College of San Mateo where he played football. He then turned to rugby, playing with Folau Niua with the East Palo Alto Razorbacks. In 2016 he played PRO Rugby with the Sacramento Express.
During the USA Eagles Summer training camp ahead of their match against Russia, Langilangi attended as a practice player, and his performance impressed the coaches and led to his National Team selection against Russia where he made his debut on 25 June 2016 at Bonney Field. During the Fall he also played against Romania and Tonga in November.
Following the Fall internationals, he signed a two-year contract with the Glasgow Warriors and played 78 minutes in 4 matches as a replacement. He also played with Stirling County in the Scottish premiership. He was released from his contract with the Warriors in January 2017 due to family reasons.
Langilangi also played with the San Francisco Golden Gate and with Life West Gladiators in the Pacific Rugby Premiership and was selected for the USA Islanders in 2017 against the Saracens. Over the last two years, he played rugby league with the San Francisco Savage in the California Rugby League.
LA Giltinis Comments
Today’s exciting announcement again highlights the Giltinis’ desire to harness top American talent for the club’s maiden voyage in Major League Rugby from March 2021.
He is renowned for his thundering tackles and running in a whirl of dreadlocks because his 255lb (116kg), 6’ 1” (185cm) frame is all persuasive Tongan power.
“It was great news to hear about a LA club starting up because I’ve got a lot of family and friends just a drive away from supporting this new team,” Haupeakui said.
“Bringing in players who have been around the game for a long time to give young players knowledge and background is really smart from the Giltinis to build the club.
“Man, I’m in shock every day when I see the next new signing the club has made and it’s going to be an honour to play beside these players.”
Off the field, Haupeakui works as an electrician so the chance to immerse himself in rugby full-time will create sparks of a different kind.
“Honestly, when I came back from Scotland (in 2017) I kind of lost the love for rugby but I found the spark again with Life West most recently and am grateful for this chance in LA,” Haupeakui said.
“If we buy in as players and do what the coaches say I’ve no doubt the Giltinis can go all the way to a championship but hard work comes first.
“I played with Sacramento (Express) in the one season of PRO Rugby (2016) and you can just see how MLR is growing with TV games, new teams, and more support.”
Haupeakui has a strong supporter in Giltinis assistant coach Orene Ai’i, the former New Zealand sevens star who played against him as a player in the San Francisco area.
“Langilangi is gifted and athletic with a real physical presence on attack and defence,” Ai’i said.
“It’s really important to have experienced American players to look up to and show the pathway possible for players to strive for across California.”
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.