LA Giltinis Captures MLR Shield After Win Over Rugby ATL

The Major League Rugby Shield Final featured the Western Conference Champion, LA Giltiinis, against the Eastern Conference Champion, Rugby ATL, on Sunday, August 1 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The match was broadcast on CBS, TSN2 (Canada), and internationally on The Rugby Network.

The LA Giltinis took a 15-10 lead into the break.


Following an ATL penalty for being offsides, LA elected to kick to touch instead of at the goal. LA won the lineout, but the ball went into touch. This thwarted an early LA scoring opportunity with ATL clearing after the lineout.

LA showed a glimpse of their backline attack after a line break by Adam Ashley-Cooper, but after a crushing tackle, the Giltinis lost the ball forward giving ATL a scrum inside their own 22-meters. An early push by LA provided a chance to clear. The ball, however, did not find touch and LA quickly attacked before a forward pass stopped their effort.

Rugby ATL strategy appears to test LA with Kurt Coleman kicking high balls and challenging the Giltinis to field the ball under pressure inside Giltinis territory.

A breakdown penalty by LA had Kurt Coleman slotting the kick for an early lead, 0-3. (15th Minute)

The ensuing restart was fielded by ATL and Gouws executed a box kick giving LA a lineout. The ball went wide right and was grubbed out giving ATL a lineout inside their own 22-meters. An ATL penalty had Matt Giteau leveling the match at 3 all. (19th Minute)

Following a breakdown, an offload by Matt Giteau to John Ryberg resulted in a try with Giteau converting to lead 10-3. (21st minute).

The restart had Adam Ashley-Cooper taking a chip from Matt Giteau and motored downfield before offloading to John Ryberg for a try in the right corner (24th minute) with Giteau missing the conversion, 15-3.

The restart was gathered by Giteau, who cleared for an ATL lineout inside their territory. Johan Momsen gathered, and the ball went to the ground, with a turnover scrum to LA. Bill Meakes went into contact, and Mahe Vailanu knocked on for a Rugby ATL scrum.

Another high ball from Coleman was taken by Ryberg with Goddard returning a box kick to ATL. Ryberg then fielded another high ball from ATL.

A Giteau kick for territory gave ATL a lineout 5-meters in defense and was taken and cleared. Soon after ATL had a scrum on their own 22-meters and went wide left to Van Vugt, who chipped downfield.

A penalty by DTH Van Der Merwe had Coleman kicking to touch and attacking from a lineout inside LA territory. A loose ball allowed LA to clear with some exchanges in kicks before ATL’s Van Vugt advanced to LA’s 10-meter line. A few phases later, LA was penalized and kicked to touch instead of for points, for a lineout 5-meters out.

Johan Momsen gathered with Marko Janse Van Rensburg scoring a try from a rolling maul. (36th minute) Kurt Coleman brought the match to within five points after slotting the conversion, 15-10.

A high ball by LA was fielded by Van Der Merwe and another high ball was claimed by Van Vugt before kicking back to LA. Adam Ashley-Cooper grubbed the ball giving ATL a lineout 5-meters from their goal and then cleared for a 15-10 LA lead at the break.

Second Half

The second half restart was claimed by John Ryberg and after moving the ball left, kicked to the right with ATL knocking on. LA attacked from a scrum and ATL was penalized at the breakdown. Giteau kicked to touch for a lineout inside Rugby ATL’s 22-meters.

The ATL defense consistently repelled the LA attack before a penalty had Giteau slotting a kick to push the lead to 18-10. (44th minute)

Rugby ATL attacked from a lineout inside LA’s 22-meters before a turnover inside 5-meters had Matt Giteau clearing.

Rugby ATL attacked again from a lineout before a penalty had Giteau kicking to just outside ATL’s 22-meters. Dave Dennis gathered the lineout and the ball went wide left. A turnover then allowed ATL to clear. An offload from Van Der Merwe to Ryberg had him motoring into contact and a penalty resulted in a lineout 7-meters out.

LA mauled and then moved the ball wide left with DTH Van Der Merwe scoring in the left corner. (53rd minute). Giteau then added the extras to push the lead to 25-10.

Following some tactical kicks from both sides, a counter ruck had DTH Van Der Merwe creating a turnover and a Giteau chip ended with an ATL scrum.

Following a kick from Ezcurra to Ryberg, LA kicked ahead, placing Kurt Coleman under pressure with his clearance kick short.

A Goddard kick pinned Rugby ATL about 11-meters from their goal. ATL claimed their lineout and cleared. A knock on quickly gave the ball back to ATL. LA was penalized and ATL was inside the Giltinis territory. ATL mauled to the Giltinis 22-meters and went through phases before a handling error gave the ball back to LA.

Matt Giteau cleared after a scrum and Austin White went into contact and being isolated, was penalized, with Giteau slotting a penalty goal, 28-10. (70th minute)

The restart was bobbled by ATL with Goddard chipping ahead and Coleman was forced into touch. LA went through phases before a chip ahead was marked by Mark O’Keeffe, who quickly tapped.

LA maintained pressure from a scrum and following a penalty advantage with Luke Carty cross-kicking to Ryan James. The ball came back with Luke Burton adding a penalty goal, 31-10. (76th minute)

Rugby AT’s Ryan Rees sliced forward after a lineout and after a few forward picks, Ross Deacon added a try, converted by Coleman, 31-17.

LA attacked deep inside ATL territory with no time on the clock before Carty kicked into touch for the win and the 2021 MLR Shield.

Guarantee Rate Man of the Match honors went to Matt Giteau.

Photo: LA Giltinis

Commissioner George Killebrew awarded the MLR Shield to LA Giltinis team owner Adam Gilchrist, before giving it to the team.

For Adam Ashley-Cooper, he has played his last game, and when asked, Matt Giteau indicated that he needed time to decide what he might do going forward. Today was a day to savor the win.

Rugby ATL has a young team and they will remember this experience and will serve to motivate them in the off-season.

Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview

LA Giltinis: 1 Charlie Abel 2 Mahe Vailanu 3 Marco Fepulea’i 4 Dave Dennis (C) 5 Nathan Den Hoedt 6 Angus Cottrell7 Christian Poidevin 8 Corey Thomas 9 Harrison Goddard 10 Matt Giteau 11 DTH Van Der Merwe 12 Bill Meakes 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper 14 John Ryberg 15 Luke Burton 16 Sean McNulty 17 Blake Rogers 18 Luke White 19 Sean O’Brien 20 Pago Haini 21 Serupepeli Vularika 22 Luke Carty 23 Ryan James

Rugby ATL: 1 Alex Maughan2 Marko Janse van Rensburg 3 Wikus Groenewald 4 Marno Redelinghuys 5 6 Vili HeluConnor Cook 7 Matt Heaton (cc) 8 Johan Momsen 9 Rowan Gouws 10 Kurt Coleman 11 Rory Van Vugt 12 Bautista Ezcurra 13 Ryan Nell (cc) 14 Jeremy Misailegalu 15 Austin White 16 Neethling Gericke 17 Chance Wenglewski 18 Will Burke 19 Conor Keys 20 Ross Deacon 21 Ryan Rees 22 Robbie Petzer 23 Mark O’Keeffe

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