Major League Rugby: Teams disqualified for unspecified transgression

Lawrence Nolan

The USA’s glow at having been chosen to host the 2031 Rugby World Cup was extinguished on Wednesday as two of its Major League Rugby teams were disqualified.

The two teams disqualified were the Austin Gilgronis, who learned of their fate last week, and the LA Giltinis, both owned by flamboyant Australian entrepreneur Adam Gilchrist.

Silence from both sides

Aside from posting that the teams had been disqualified for a ‘violation of league rules’, Major League Rugby has been silent on the matter, while neither team has made any public statement either.

Multiple sources around the league have mentioned salary cap breaches, although just as many sources have been as quick to point out that the teams in question are not the only ones throwing money around at star players.

Other commenters have been more vocal, bemoaning the lack of ability of willing investors to help grow the game, in echoes of the continuing argument in England surrounding the salary caps.

Another theory is also that Mr. Gilchrist, once he had learned of Austin’s exclusion, then actively withdrew the LA team from the competition and that the MLR’s disqualification announcement was a face-saver.

The teams were the top two sides in the league’s Conference West, which has left the bizarre situation of the team which finished fifth in the seven-team conference, the San Diego Legion, in the play-offs. Both started in Major League Rugby last year with plenty of fanfare, including the Giltinis’ acquisitions of Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper into the playing squad.

Giteau was widely expected to retire this year, and as such, could have played his last game of professional rugby.

But whatever the storylines, the mess is not a good look for the USA‘s flagship league so soon after the country won the rights to the 2031 World Cup, with no transparency or communication from the administration, making any forthcoming explanation all the more doubtful. Nine years to go…

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