With a firm foundation beneath it, the Summit boys rugby team prepares for the 2022 season

The Summit boys rugby team poses for a team photo ahead of its first game against Castle Rock on Saturday, March 26. Pictured are Ronald Wray, front row from left, Jared Marcer, Christian Skowron, GC Martinez, Same Daly, Jack Hodge, Silas Tharp and Evan Sturges, and back row from left, Finn Norris, Jake Boyle, John Weldon, Jonah Martinez, Max Sanchez, Kevin Reddell, Ryan Perkins, Caleb Artherholt, Kevin Lopez and Barrett Ernst.
Stefan de Vogel/Courtesy photo

Last spring, in the team’s inaugural season after the program became dormant following the 2018 season, the Summit boys rugby team had its fair share of challenges as it faced competitive opponents and had trouble winning matches.

Despite the minimal success last season, head coach Lance French told his team to not measure the program’s success based on its overall record. Rather, he told his players to focus on setting a solid team foundation for the 2022 season.

“Last year was foundational,” French said. “We had players who had no rugby IQ. We had a lot of players that worked hard, but it was about just setting a platform to be ready for this year. We did that very well.”

Now that the 2022 spring rugby season is about to begin Saturday, March 26, the team feels like a solid base has formed, allowing the team to not only be more competitive but also connected.

As French enters his second year as head coach of the program, the team has also grown in size. Last year, the team had only about nine players, but now the team has grown to 18 athletes, which means it can field an entire 15-man roster while holding three reserves.

The Summit boys rugby team is also switching leagues. Last season, the team competed in the small but competitive Colorado Interscholastic Rugby Association. This year, it will transition to the larger Rugby Colorado League, which features teams of about the same skill level as Summit.

The team has been practicing diligently over the past two months. The program is working on improving its overall rugby IQ along with its team chemistry.

French feels like the team is at the point where the foundation is beyond firm and the team can now move toward showing its hard work on the pitch.

The majority of the Summit boys rugby roster is made up of students from Summit High School, but the team also has three members who are home schooled. Several athletes are also members of the Summit High School football team who are trying to stay in shape for the fall season while enjoying the sport of rugby.

The team will be led by three, team-appointed captains. They include Jack Hodge, GC Martinez and Sam Daly.

Hodge was born and raised in Summit County and is a member of the Summit High School football team. Hodge was a part of the Summit rugby program last season and will play the outside center position.

Martinez is a center on the football team and will rejoin the Summit boys rugby team for his second year as a scrum-half, who acts as the quarterback for all the forwards.

Summit boys rugby team captains Sam Daly, from left, Jack Hodge and GC Martinez pose for a photo ahead of the team’s first match Saturday, March 26.
Stefan de Vogel/Courtesy photo

“He is an outstanding player, unbelievable,” French said. “I’ve got to hold him back because he has to be available to do his quarterbacking job and not do everything else.”

Daly is a Summit native and has grown up around rugby his whole life. His father is from New Zealand and passed his love for the sport down to his son. Daly will play the fly-half position this season and will use his strong sense of the field to help the team score goals.

“He also kicks for our points on conversions and penalties,” French said. “He’s good from 40 meters out. He is going to have a lot of points this year, and he is going to have a sense of running our backs and getting scores.”

The team will also rely on Jake Boyle, who has deiced to take up rugby as a senior. Boyle has been a member of Summit’s football program the past four years, where he played as a lineman. He will now test his athleticism on the rugby pitch.

Boyle will use his competitive drive in the tight-head prop position and spearhead the rest of the frontline forwards.

The Summit boys rugby team will not have any home games this season since the team does not have an approved playing field. Instead the team will play on and around the Front Range.

“The character of the team is enthusiastic, happy and loving it,” French said. “I push, push, push to get them frustrated, but I can’t even frustrate them. I do whatever I can to make it as hard as I can, to make it easier for the match time, and I can’t do it. That’s character.”

The Summit boys rugby team will test out the team’s rugby foundation and preparation against Castle Rock on Saturday at the Aurora Sports Park. The match is set for noon.

Summit boys rugby schedule

• March 26 vs. Castle Rock at Aurora Sports Park in Aurora, noon

• April 2 vs. Fort Collins at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, noon

• April 9 vs. Dakota at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, 10:30 a.m.

• April 16 vs. Brighton at Regis University in Denver, 4 p.m.

• May 7 vs. North High School at Aurora Sports Park, 1:30 p.m.

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