Chicago Hounds Signs Chris Mattina

The Chicago Hounds signed Chris Mattina for the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 29-year-old fullback, who has played center, wing, and flyhalf, (30 in March) is 6’2″ and 215 lbs.

Chris played 587 minutes in 12 matches, starting 7, and scored 17 points (2 tries, 2 conversions, 1 penalty goal) for Austin  Gilgronis in 2022. He finished the year with 23 carries for 213 meters (9.3 meters per carry) with five line breaks and six broken tackles. He had 557 meters gained on his 67 carries (8.3 MPC) with three line breaks and nine defenders beaten.

He toured with the USA Falcons to the Toyota Challenge in South Africa and played against the Toyota Cheetahs and Pumas. His performance led to his selection for the USA Men’s National XVs Team for the World Rugby Final Qualification Tournament for the final spot in the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The USA went on to beat Kenya and Hong Kong, before Portugal came back to draw with the Eagles in extra time, ending the team’s hopes of playing in the Rugby World Cup. For Chris, it was a learning experience as he did not have an opportunity to make his debut.

Chris returned to Chula Vista Elite Training Center the past two weeks for the Austin Giltinis training camp, where he trained previously with the USA National Sevens Team. The camp culminated with a scrimmage against San Diego Legion, and Chris played fullback in the second half for the Gilgronis 12-10 win. During Fall of 2021, he played in the American Rugby Premiership with NYAC Rugby.

Chris played 431 minutes for Rugby United New York in 10 matches, starting 4, and scored 16 points (1 try, 4 conversions, 1 penalty goal). He also played in the inaugural Premier Rugby Sevens on October 9, 2021, in Memphis, Tennessee.

While Chris was with Rugby United New York, he also was one of the Xavier High School rugby coaches.

Chris played 400 minutes in 5 starts and scored one try during the pandemic-shortened MLR 2020 season. He also played at the World Tens in Bermuda in 2020. He also began the CM Rugby Academy.

Chris scored the team’s first Major League Rugby try in the 2019 season opener against the San Diego Legion. He played wherever the team needed him, slotting in at fly-half, inside center, outside center, wing, and fullback. He played 953 minutes in 12 matches, carried the ball 59 times for 564 meters, and scored four tries. He was one of RUNY’s leading scorers with 41 points.

Following the 2019 MLR season, Chris played for Life West at the Rugbytown 7s and for NYAC in the American Premiership Rugby in the Fall.

Chris played for the USA Men’s Eagles Sevens team and was part of the residency program in Chula Vista, California in 2018.

Chris grew up in Manhattan’s Upper Eastside and attended Xavier High School from 2008-2011. He played football for 3 years and lost his Senior year due to a foot injury. He also played basketball and rugby. The latter sports combined his love of soccer and football.

At Xavier, he played for Mike Tolkin, who later became the USA Rugby Men’s Eagles Head Coach, the Head Coach of RUNY, and now leads Premiership Rugby Sevens. In his Junior year in 2010, the team won the National High School Championship defeating Gonzaga College High School. Chris scored two tries and was named MVP.

Chris also had other interests while at Xavier, belonging to the Irish American Society. He was honored as the 2011 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship recipient.

After graduating from Xavier, I was on to the University of Delaware from 2011-2016. There he was a three-time captain of the team and was the Club’s President in his final year. Delaware played in the D1A Rugby East while he was there in  2011-2013 and was an independent for the 2015-2016 season. In 2012 and 2013 the team played in the Collegiate Rugby Championship and were Plate Winners in 2013 after going 5-1 and defeating the University of Notre Dame in the Plate Final. Their only loss was to Life University.

In 2012 the team won the New York Sevens Collegiate Division going undefeated and scoring 164 points, while not yielding a single point. That propelled the team to finish third in the USA Rugby Collegiate Sevens Nationals.

The team entered Fall 2013 with high hopes, fielding two D1A sides and two DII sides. One match was played before a non-rugby event led to a five-year suspension. The suspension lasted two years before the suspension was lifted after the team acceptance of responsibility.

During the two years of College rugby exile, Chris played for Wilmington RFC and New York Athletic Club. He played rugby sevens for NYAC, Atlantis Rugby 7s, the Elite City Sevens in 2014, and at the World Cup 7s in 2014 for the New York City 7s. later he would also play for the Northeast Academy.

When adversity strikes, it is how it is handled that defines people. Chris continued at the University of Delaware through his graduation in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science. He fostered the return of the University of Delaware Men’s Rugby team in 2015-2016, becoming the Club’s president and assuming the role of captain. The team returned to the Collegiate Rugby Championship and won the Philadelphia Challenge Championship.

In 2017, Chris helped NYAC advance to the USA Rugby Division 1 Club XVs National Championship, losing to the Austin Huns. He also thrived playing rugby sevens. He went on tour to South America with the USA Falcons, playing in the Punta Del Este Sevens, in Uruguay and the Viña Del Mar Sevens in Chile. He then became a resident at Chula Vista and played in the Silicon Valley Sevens Tournament, scoring the first try for Team USA and adding another in the tournament while reaching the Tournament Final.

In 2018, he played in eight HSBC World Sevens Series Tournaments after debuting at the Sydney Sevens. This included winning the Cup Championship at the USA Sevens, the team’s second Cup title, and the first on U.S. soil. He signed a professional contract with the San Diego Legion, but his USA Rugby National Sevens responsibilities did not translate to playing in a match.

Chris was also part of the extended 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens squad and was named as the 13th man. Playing for the National team and traveling the world is an experience that few can savor.

DJCoil Rugby Interview

Doug Coil interview of Chris Mattina at MCU Park, March 24, 2019. (Eagles 7s, challenges of being a utility starter, & traveling)

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant