LA Giltinis Adds Matt Giteau

LA Giltinis signed former Australian Wallaby Matt Giteau for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 38-year-old flyhalf, inside center, scrumhalf is 5’10” and 190 lbs.

Matt was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and grew up in Canberra. He initially played rugby league and was advised at age 11 or 12 that if he wanted to play 1st XV rugby union, he had to give up league, which he did.

Matt attended St. Edmund’s College from 1993-2000 and played rugby union while there. He played 1st-grade matches for Western Suburbs, Eastern Suburbs, and the Canberra Raiders. In 2000 he was selected to Australia ‘A’ Schools Team to play against New Zealand Schools. He also played with the Canberra Vikings in the National Rugby Championship.

He represented Australia in the 2001-2002 IRB Sevens World Series, and in 2002 played in the inaugural IRB U21s Junior World Championship in South Africa for Australia. He went on to represent the Wallabies that year, making his debut as a reserve against England on 16 November at Twickenham. This would be the first of his 103 tests as Wallaby #780.

According to Classic Wallabies, “Matt Giteau is only Wallaby in the professional era to make his Test debut for Australia before he had played provincial rugby. One of Test rugby’s most dangerous, daring, versatile, and durable players he went on to become one the great Wallabies of the modern era.”

“He arrived in 2002 with selection in the national 7s, U21s and, without having ever trained, let alone played with a Super Rugby team, the Wallaby Spring Tour squad. Giteau then made his Test debut just 48 days after his 20th birthday, against England at Twickenham. From that point on there was very little Giteau did not achieve in rugby although he never tasted victory in the Bledisloe or Rugby World Cups.”

He joined ACT Brumbies in 2002, initially on a one-year deal making his debut in 2003 where he played in the centers. He then signed a three-year contract through the 2006 Super Rugby season. He would make 40 appearances, and scored 151 points for the team. The team won the Super 12 Championship in 2004.

Matt played in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, helping the team gain second place in the tournament held in Australia. and also played in the Rugby World Cup in 2007 in France. He also played for the Barbarians in 2007 in their win over 2007 RWC Champions, South Africa.

From 2007-2009 he moved to Perth and played with Western Force, making 37 Super Rugby appearances. He also played with the Associates’ Rugby Union Football Club. In 2010 he returned to the Brumbies for two years, making 27 more appearances, which brought his total Super Rugby caps to 52. He also scored 222 points through 22 tries, 23 conversions, and 22 penalty goals.

In 2011, Matt decided to make a change and signed a contract with Toulon to take effect after the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Things did not go as planned with Wallabies Head Coach Robbie Deans not selecting him for his third Rugby World Cup.

Matt played with Toulon in the French Top 14 league from November 2011 to 2017, with his final year as a player-coach. He made 121 appearances and scored 321 points. The team was also Heineken Cup Champions in 2013 and won the European Cup Championship three consecutive years from 2013 through 2015.

In 2015, the Wallabies had a new coach in Michael Cheika, and a rule change by the Australian Rugby Union was instituted that players that had at least 60 caps and were not playing Super Rugby were eligible to play for Australia. The so-called “Giteau Law” made him eligible with his 92 caps for selection to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He would be a key contributor to the Wallabies RWC runners-up finish.

His Wallabies career ended with 103 test caps, which is sixth all-time for Australia and his 698 points were third all-time after the last of his tests on 20 August against New Zealand in Sydney.

Matt had other challenges in mind when he signed in 2017 with Suntory Sungoliath in the Japanese Top League. He played with the team until 2020 when the season ended prematurely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Matt has also played for a couple of other rugby clubs, Balmain RFC in Sydney and the Gungahlin Eagles in Gungahlin, Australia.

With Adam Gilchrist’s ownership of both the LA Giltinis and Austin Gilgronis, opportunities and challenges still existed for a player of Matt’s caliber. He brings leadership to the Giltinis and the chance to play with a few of his former mates, provides an excellent way to perhaps exit his playing career on his own terms and to help foster the young league. It also provides him the opportunity to make the possible transition to coaching full-time in the future.

Matt already has been honored as an Ambassador Société Générale since 2017 in Paris and Ambassador Elite FX since 2020 in London. He also is co-owner of Backline Wines since 2020.

LA Giltinis Release

The LA Giltinis are delighted to announce a signing coup with rugby superstar Matt Giteau bringing his trophy-winning ways to Los Angeles. 

Today’s unveiling is the biggest recruitment news of the off-season for both the go-ahead Giltinis and Major League Rugby’s fourth season. 

Wooing Australia’s three-time World Cup star on a one-season deal adds a huge marquee name to the Giltinis’ already-impressive roster of players from seven countries. 

It took a fresh, bold rugby vision in LA to hook the Wallabies great. 

He had all but decided to retire when his final season for Suntory Sungoliath ended suddenly in March once Japan’s 2020 Top League season was canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.  

Giteau’s polished skills at the five-eighth and inside center, as one of the most influential backs of the 21st century, have generated six elite trophies in Australia (Brumbies), France (Toulon), and Japan (Suntory). 

One of the game’s all-time great, Giteau is excited about his final frontier in rugby. 

“Starting a franchise afresh, the history I have with certain players and staff at the Giltinis and the family feel to this adventure were all big things that persuaded me,” Giteau said. 

“And I get to live in one of the coolest cities in the world and experience this with my kids at an age when they’ll remember it. 

“To be honest, I felt a bit unfulfilled with the way things ended in Japan and it made me think that just retiring because of ‘age’ was selling myself a bit short. 

“Like everyone, I felt that moment this year when the sport was taken away (because of the pandemic) so I got excited with the LA offer and realized you are a long time retired.” 

Giteau’s skillful sparkle earned him the first of his 103 Test caps for the Wallabies in 2002. 

He would go on to score 30 tries and 698 points in Tests and live up to his early nickname as “Kid Dynamite” with his silky ball-playing, sharp footwork, and smart organizing skills. 

So talented, the Australian Rugby Union changed their own rules by drafting the so-called “Giteau Law” to select players from outside Australia who had played 60 or more Tests. 

He was playing in France when recalled for a stirring comeback at the 2015 World Cup after winning a hat-trick of European Rugby Champions Cups (2013-15) with Toulon. 

“I still love to play and compete. What will give me just as much satisfaction is helping to create the identity of the Giltinis and developing the potential in some excellent American and international youngsters for the club’s future,” Giteau said. 

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to speak to (head coach) Darren Coleman about the values he holds dear and how important it is to nurture local American and Canadian players and get them into national teams. 

“I feel I know what successful clubs look like…you need strong leaders and you need to establish what you stand for early on and off the field. 

“If you stick to those standards it becomes habitual for those who follow in the seasons ahead. 

“With good people, you create a family feel, at a club and you do more than normal to protect that and not let the club down. 

“I’m excited. I know how big sport is in the United States in general and I see Major League Rugby having a real crack to turn the USA into a dominant rugby nation. 

“The Giltinis will be out in the LA rugby community to get our fans fully involved.” 

Father-of-three Giteau’s close friendship with former Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper was a factor too when they both decided to jump into this adventure.   

The pair share a business partnership in Backline Wines with retired Wallaby, Drew Mitchell. 

As a sign of Giteau’s commitment, he bobbed up in Australian club rugby mid-season in Canberra with Gungahlin Eagles during the COVID-19 restrictions. 

He helped guide the club to a first grand final in 13 years, defeated isolation by gelling with a new brand of rugby friends, and kept his rugby engine purring. 

“The Giteau name is world-famous and he brings multiple layers to the club in marketability, mentoring for our younger players, and an amazing trophy record as a winner,” Coleman said. 

“He’s renowned as always being fiercely competitive as a player and trainer and I’m really excited he’s coming to Los Angeles with a fire in his belly to help make the club successful. 

“He’s going to be an excellent mentor for young No.10s like Luke Burton, Luke Carty, and Jeff Peleseuma in our squad.” 

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant