LA Giltinis has former Australian Wallaby Matt Giteau back for the 2022 Major League Rugby season. The 39-year-old flyhalf is 5’10” and 185 lbs.
Matt played 817 minutes in 13 matches, starting 12, and scored 96 points (1 try, 35 conversions, 7 penalty goals), 7th highest in MLR. His leadership when on the pitch was evident as he led the league’s leading attack team and MLR Shield Champions in 2021.
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.
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, providing 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 is also the co-owner of Backline Wines since 2020.