SA-born twins sign for Major League Rugby club

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Ruan Smith (Getty Images)
Ruan Smith (Getty Images)

American club LA Giltinis have signed South African-born twins JP and Ruan Smith ahead of the 2021 Major League Rugby season.

The brothers grew up in South Africa before finishing school at Toowoomba Grammar in their now-homeland Australia.

The 30-year-olds played together for the Reds in this year's Super Rugby and Super Rugby AU events.

Ruan has played with the Western Force, Brumbies, Reds and Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby since 2012, while JP has represented the Brumbies, the Stormers and the Reds since 2014.

"For me, going to the USA has always been a bucket list thing so to get in on the ground floor with a new club in LA makes it very appealing," Ruan told the club's official website of his two-season deal.

"JP and I always play our best rugby together. It’s that little boost you get on the field with your brother and it’s a real thing.

"I'm at a stage of my career where I want to experience something different and spend more time with my family so to be able to play hard and compete for six months a year in MLR is ideal."

The brothers specialise on different sides of the scrum - JP at loosehead prop and Ruan at tighthead - so they aren't competing for the same spot.

New Giltinis team-mates will be doing plenty of double-takes because the twins are near identical even down to their cauliflower ears.

"A few boys couldn't work out how they were greeting me on one side of the gym and saying hello to me on the other side as well," JP said with a laugh of confusing early days with Ruan at the Reds.

"Playing with a new club in one of the sporting capitals of the world has massive appeal for me.

"Away from playing, I'm really interested in player development and coaching and I'd like to take any opportunity in that area in LA to help rugby keep growing in the local community.

"One hundred per cent I believe the Giltinis can make an impact immediately because I can't believe how professional the operation is already with everyone filling in training data from around the world and connecting on Zoom."

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