Rugby New York signed Cristian Rodriguez for the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 26-year-old scrum-half is 5’6” and 170 lbs.
Cristian played 370 minutes in 10 matches, starting 4, and scored 1 try for the LA Giltinis in 2022. He also played for the Loonies in the Premier Rugby Sevens.
He played 304 minutes in 13 matches, starting 3, and scored 2 tries for the MLR Shield Champion Giltinis in 2021. He also played for the Giltinis Academy side. On October 9, 2021, he played for the Team in the inaugural Premier Rugby Sevens professional league.
Cristian played for the Ohio Aviators Tens in the World Tens Series in Bermuda in October/November 2020.
Growing up in Hawaiian Gardens, California, a tough, little city in LA County, Cristian was first introduced to the Alternatives to Gang Membership (ATGM) program in elementary school. ATGM’s main mission is to provide an outlet through rugby for at-risk youth. At a young age, Cristian and his friends would watch the older kids and dream of playing like them.
Cristian began playing rugby through ATGM in middle school and continued into his time at Artesia High School. Over his four years, his high school team was competitive around Southern California and won many tournaments and championships.
During his senior year in 2015, Cristian was asked to play in a tournament in San Diego. Being that it was late in his senior year, Cristian took Friday off from school to have fun playing rugby for a day. Cristian caught the attention of the head coach from Lindenwood University who ended up offering him a scholarship for just watching him in one game.
A few months later Cristian was attending and playing rugby at Lindenwood University. Being the first in his family to attend college, he says, “I was allowed to learn and get better while gaining friendships that I’ll cherish for life.” While at Lindenwood, Cristian won three 7s National Championships, and two Collegiate Rugby Championships, and was a six-time All-American (three times each for 15s and 7s). On top of these achievements, in 2019 Cristian was the recipient of the Prusmack Award which is awarded to the top male and female 7s players in the US.
During his time in college, Cristian also represented the US in 2017 on the U20 National Team and in 2017-2019 on the U23s 15s and 7s side. In 2017, Cristian also played for Belmont Shore Rugby Club.
Although Cristian never considered himself at risk of getting involved in gangs, he saw the positive impact rugby had on his friends. After graduating from Lindenwood with a degree in Recreation Administration and a Sports Management minor in 2019, Cristian moved back to Hawaiian Gardens to help run and grow ATGM. He looks forward to continuing to mentor youth back home while growing his rugby career in the MLR.