LA Giltinis signed Ryan James Jr. for the 2021 Major League Rugby season after obtaining him in the second round of the Dallas Jackals dispersal draft. The 21-year-old fullback/wing is 6’2” and 195 lbs.
Ryan played in two matches as a reserve for the Colorado Raptors in 2020. Following the season, the Raptors withdrew from MLR and he was selected by the Dallas Jackals in the dispersal draft. The Jackals later announced that the team would postpone their MLR debut until the 2022 season, with the league holding a draft for the team’s players.
Ryan is from San Diego, California, and attended Cathedral Catholic High School from 2013-2017. He began playing football at age 7 and turned to rugby at age 12 with the Aztec Warriors U12s and later with the U18s.
Ryan comes from a rugby playing family. His mother Sonya was born and raised in New Zealand and played rugby along with other family members.
Ryan’s family has supported his rugby pursuits and he has developed an extensive rugby resume in the last eight years. He is a three-time High School All-American and has represented the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy since 2013 as a freshman in high school. He has played USA age-grade rugby for the U18s, U19s, and U20s. His senior year, he attended the Junior Men’s All-American Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. He also attended the USA Men’s 7s High-Performance Camp in 2017.
He has attended many rugby tournaments. These include Portland Oregon in 2014, Bakersfield California 2015, Denver Colorado & the Las Vegas 7s in 2016 & 2017, European tours in 2015 & 2017, Utah 7s in 2017, and against Canada in 2016 & 2017.
Ryan participated in the Glendale Raptors U23 Academy in 2017-2018 and the San Diego Academy in 2019. In 2020 he should see playing time with the Colorado Raptors, as well as with the Glendale Merlins.
LA Giltinis Comments
The LA Giltinis have added sharp young winger Ryan James to their 2021 roster from the Dispersal Draft of players from the stalled Dallas Jackals lift-off.
Today’s announcement is a win for both parties…the Giltinis pick up a pacy, elusive finisher, and James, 21, returns to his southern California roots.
James is a player on the rise and hopes to find a settled home at the Giltinis after the rollercoaster he’s been on in Major League Rugby to date.
“I was in shock when Dallas pulled out of this season because I couldn’t believe it was happening again after the same experience with the Colorado Raptors last year,” James said.
“I’m lucky I had a few options to consider but LA, and the west coast is where I want to be after spending too much time being cold (in Colorado).
“We’ve got a bunch of talent in this Giltinis squad. That was a big selling point for me plus reuniting with past teammates like Blake Rogers, Luke White, Mika Kruse, John Ryberg, and Nick Boyer.”
He is determined to grab his chance on this one-year deal with the Giltinis as well as spread the word about rugby at the youth level around LA.
“I played the final few minutes of the Raptors’ last game against the Toronto Arrows last season before the COVID shutdown. That was a little tease of MLR and I’m excited to take my game to the next level,” James said.
“Off the field, I love any opportunity to coach and grow the game.
“I grew up in San Diego so I know how great the support is for rugby up and down the California coast. I want to be part of making sure the Giltinis has a tremendous following.”
Head coach Darren Coleman is delighted to pick up a player of James’s ability so close to the March 20 kick-off to the season.
“Ryan is an up-and-coming young American talent who has had some bad luck with both Colorado and Dallas not getting to the start line,” Coleman said.
“He’s super-fast and evasive and we look forward to helping him add to his game and natural gifts.”