Two more Colorado XOs are headed for Major League Rugby.

The Los Angeles Giltinis announced on Thursday afternoon that the team has signed XO hooker Gelen Robinson and lock Shawn Clark to MLR contracts.

Clark and Robinson are the third members of the Colorado XOs to make the leap to the Giltinis after LA signed prop Ma’ake Muti back in April.

Unlike Muti, Clark and Robinson had no rugby experience before linking up with the XOs in January.

“We at the Colorado XOs and the City of Glendale are extremely proud of both Shawn and Gelen,” Colorado XO director of recruitment Peter Pasque said in the Giltinis’ release. “They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them and more. We also would like to thank the LA Giltinis for taking an early interest in our program.”

Clark comes to rugby after a solid career as a tight end at Monmouth University. His college career earned him an invitation to the Indianapolis Colts rookie minicamp in 2020. After his NFL plans didn’t work out, Clark competed in The Spring League’s November showcase down in Texas where Pasque found him.

Shawn Clark carries the ball in a rugby match against the LA Loyals Elite. (Photo: Justin Purdy)

Robinson got his first taste of rugby back at the RugbyTown Crossover Academy’s November camp which served as a weeklong tryout for a Colorado XO contract. Before rugby, Robinson wrestled, played defensive end, and threw shot put at Purdue. He had a few short stints in NFL camps, and most recently played for the San Diego Legion of the Alliance of American Football and the Dallas Renegades of the XFL before the league shut down due to COVID.

Gelen Robinson gets set for a lineout in a match against the Hartford Harpooners. (Photo: Justin Purdy)

Both Clark and Robinson picked up the sport quickly. Robinson’s work ethic, leadership, and on-field abilities earned him the title of vice-captain of the XOs before the spring exhibition season began. Clark’s impact on the XOs was apparent in the club’s first-ever match – a 26-10 victory over New Orleans Rugby Football Club – when he punched in the second try of the match.

Robinson appeared in all 10 matches that the XOs played in 2021 while Clark appeared in nine after an injury forced him to miss one match early on in the season. Both players finished with three tries apiece.

“I dove headfirst into rugby only six months ago,” Robinson said via the release. “It was a risk for me, but I’ve become obsessed with the game. I’ve picked up plenty but there are a million little things still to learn so it’s very exciting to sign with the best team in the country.

“Life has thrown me rugby out of last year’s difficult year with the public health situation and I’m enjoying every part of the process,” Clark said via the release. “Learning as much as I can from guys at the Giltinis who have played on national teams will be great. I’m already learning different set-ups in the lineout and adding to my feel for the flow of the game which is the hardest part.”

Colton Strickler
Author

Colton Strickler is a Colorado guy through and through. He is a Wheat Ridge Farmer and a Colorado State Ram. He has been involved in the Colorado rugby community in some capacity since 2011. He was Major League Rugby's lead writer in 2018 and 2019 before joining DNVR Rugby.

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