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Major League Rugby unveils Los Angeles expansion team

(Credit: Major League Rugby)

Major League Rugby has announced that Los Angeles has been awarded an expansion team for the 2021 season.

The new team is called the LA Giltinis, named after a premium cocktail based on the Martini. They are MLR’s 12th team following the withdrawal of the Colorado Raptors in April.

The LA Giltinis will be based in Venice Beach, California, and are in discussions to play home games at the 77,000-capacity Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Loyals Rugby, a rugby investment company founded in Australia, are the team’s majority owners. The team has two Australian coaches, Darren Coleman and Stephen Hoiles, and a number of Australian players are expected to play for the Giltinis.

Loyals Rugby also owns the Austin-based MLR team, which was rebranded from Austin Herd to Austin Gilgronis. The “Gilgronis” are likewise named after “a new Texas-sized cocktail”.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming Los Angeles to MLR. LA is an important addition to the League as a major media market and the region has a lengthy rugby history embedded in their culture,” said MLR commissioner George Killebrew in a statement.

Matt Burgess, the Loyals Rugby chief executive, added: “The launch of the LA Giltinis and Major League Rugby in Los Angeles will ensure rugby takes its rightful place among the best entertainment products worldwide. It is our privilege to bring one of the world’s most popular sports to the world’s most prolific entertainment market.”

In March, MLR announced it had canceled the remainder of the 2020 season due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. The start-up domestic rugby union competition was just five weeks into its third campaign, with Killebrew as its new commissioner.

In its place, MLR created its own esports competition, MLR 2020: Virtual. MLR teams will compete against each other on online game Rugby20, with the competition live-streamed to fans on Twitch.