Blue Goose falls to Glenwood Springs
glenwood springs correspondent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Loose head prop Andrew Cook finished his rookie season with the Defiance Rugby Club Saturday feeling stronger than ever.
“It lets you know you’re alive,” Cook said, of his new passion. “I’ve played a lot of sports ” wrestling, football, but there’s nothing like this that extreme.”
After Saturday’s match against Breckenridge’s Gentleman of the Blue Goose Rugby Club, Cook is motivated to improve his play on the pitch. Helping Defiance win 52-12 at Glenwood Park certainly didn’t hurt.
“Every person on this team was supportive of me,” Cook said. “They pushed me, supported me.”
At 45, Cook passed on the typical mid-life crisis indulgences he’s seen other men his age pursue to focus on a sport promoting teamwork instead of selfishness.
“Some guys get a new wife and a fast car,” Cook said. “I played rugby.”
Cook’s teammate Mike Mirick, in at second row, said Defiance’s camaraderie played a role in the positive season finisher featuring a formidable eight tries.
“We just wanted to go out with a bang,” Mirick said. “We wanted to get that win and have that behind us when we started the season next year. I think everyone knew it was our last game together with the foreigners so we wanted to win it.”
With many of its international players having already returned to their respective countries, Defiance welcomed Gentleman of Aspen players to Saturday’s roster.
Breckenridge was down a man, taking on Defiance with 14 players that included all the coaches and no subs.
“We knew we were going to be struggling to start,” Breckenridge head coach Peter Clarke said. “We have a lot of young guys and a few of them have gone back to college. They (Defiance) could switch people out and we couldn’t it. But we got beaten fair and square.”
Saturday’s win placed Defiance at third for the season in the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union behind Vail and Steamboat Springs, Defiance coach Bob Herrell said. He’s pleased with his team’s top-three finish.
“It’s been a real growth season for the team ” I feel that we’ve come a long way,” Herrell said. “The first time we played Breckenridge we only beat them by five. They have a very tough front row.”
Clarke said Breckenridge finished “about dead-on 50/50” for the season. Recruiting younger, college-aged American players for the summer has been a goal for improving Breckenridge rugby, he said.
“We had about a dozen college guys come out to Breck for the summer,” Clarke said. “We always try to play American guys. That way, American rugby will improve. And that’s better for everybody.”
Breckenridge players ” and brothers ” Daniel and Cameron Chapman put Breckenridge on the scoreboard Saturday. But that wasn’t enough to defeat a potent Defiance offense and defense.
“We fell off some tackles, especially in the second half, with big holes to allow Defiance to run through,” Clarke said. “They have a good back line and they used it well today.”
Herrell credited consistent scoring by Defiance’s Matt Blouin, Morgan Harris, Mike
Odonohoe and Blair Leach ” combined with strong play by side flanker Iain MacFadyen ” for Saturday’s domination on the pitch.
“We were feeling very confident coming in. We had an excellent practice Thursday,” he said. “We’ve been a whisker away from doing this all season long. I’m very proud.”
Like Defiance’s first-year coach, Cook is also proud of his team’s performance and anticipates what next year offers for his sophomore season.
“I’ll be training all winter to play again next year,” Cook said. “I love it.”
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