Blue Goose on a roll on eve of home tourney
BRECKENRIDGE – Members of the Blue Goose Rugby Club are turning to numerology to predict their finish in Saturday’s season-ending tournament at Kingdom Park.
The Blue Goose was third two weeks ago at the Aspen tournament and second last weekend at the Scottish Games in Denver. Counting backward, they figure they’re destined for first place this weekend.
“It’s all coming to a head for our tournament, which is what we want as a team,” said Blue Goose veteran Brian LaFreniere. “And we’ll give it our best shot this weekend.”
The locals have their toughest match first thing Saturday. They play defending champion and this year’s favorite, Aspen, at 9 a.m. If they don’t upset Aspen, winning the tournament will be nearly impossible.
“They’ll be pretty much on their way to the finals, so that’s why we’re trying to hit them off early,” said Goose president Doug Rowe.
The return of Rowe, who’s only played one game with the Goose this summer, will no doubt improve the team’s odds. Rowe has been competing on 7s teams in Denver in his ongoing bid to join the national side. He was recently named Most Valuable Player at a high-level 7s tournament back east.
Eight teams are entered in the tournament, which will run all day Saturday at Kingdom Park. They will be split into pools of four with the top team from each pool playing in the championship.
The Blue Goose is pooled with Aspen, the Denver Harlequins and Colorado Springs. On the other side will be the Denver Highlanders, the Denver Barbarians, Steamboat and Scotland’s Newton Stewart.
Newton Stewart has been in Summit County since Monday and played the Blue Goose on Tuesday. Thursday evening, the two teams practiced together at Kingdom Park.
“They’ve been great,” said Blue Goose coach Owen Rutledge. “They’re a good bunch of young guys.”
When the two teams played Tuesday, the Blue Goose came away with a close win and a boatload of new confidence.
“These guys are at the top of their game, and beating them was a feather in our cap,” LaFreniere said. “So we’re looking to really strut our stuff this weekend.”
But the win Tuesday came with an injury to captain Dustin Daugherty, who broke his collarbone and won’t play Saturday.
“This is the biggest tournament of the year for us,” Daugherty said. “It’s our home tournament, our last game of the season, so I’m pretty bummed.”
It will be the last Blue Goose day for English imports Jon Hill, Andy Hulbert and Nick Bridge. It’s been a symbiotic relationship for them and the team this season – the trio will return for the English fall season in shape, and the team is better for watching and learning from such experienced players.
“Hopefully we’ve improved the team a little bit, and we’ve really enjoyed it,” Hill said. “It’s been good preseason training for us.”
For the Goose, though, this is their season. And it’s been a successful one so far. The team has won about as much as it’s lost, and is on a roll heading into the biggest weekend of the year.
Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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