Blue Goose opens against formidable Aspen
BRECKENRIDGE – After the Gentlemen of the Blue Goose Rugby Club finished up its 8-8 season last summer, the team’s veteran president Ron Reyes figured it was time for him to move on.Citing his upcoming 40th birthday, the eighth-year team member planned on walking away and sparing his body an ever-growing wealth of aches and pains. Like many who have come before him, however, Reyes soon realized that leaving the local rugby club was easier said than done.”I’m all right, I guess,” Reyes said by phone on Wednesday. “It’s just going to take a little more training and stretching, but I’m really happy to be back into it.”Reyes’ change of heart comes during a time of growing prosperity for the Breckenridge-based squad, which improved dramatically last summer after posting a 1-13 record in 2005. In February, the Goose won its third consecutive St. Valentine’s Day Massacre tournament while scoring 17 tries and giving up zero over five matches. The Goose will get its first chance to improve on last summer’s .500 mark on Saturday when it hosts mountain powerhouse Aspen at Kingdom Park (3 p.m. start). It’s a tough draw for Reyes and company, considering the Goose went 0-3 against Aspen last summer, including an 82-17 season-opening loss.But with experienced veterans like Reyes, Zack Zellars, Russell Backhouse, Jon Wood (back from a significant knee injury), Joe Pizzi and John Terrill on the pitch, the Goose will attempt to give the visitors a run for their money.Zellars is in particularly solid shape after playing this spring for Aspen’s Division 1 team, which advanced to the national Sweet 16 in South Carolina before falling to Rice University.
After noticing Zellars’ speed and strength as a member of the Mountain League select squad at Aspen’s Ruggerfest in September, the Aspen coach offered the Goose standout a chance to play both spring and fall ball.”They pay for the travel,” said Zellars, who competed in Missouri, New Mexico, Nebraska and Colorado before heading to Texas then South Carolina for the playoffs. “I had the chance to play at a higher level and get compensated in some way for it – that was the reason I did it.”Zellars described Division 1 rugby (second only in stature to the Super League) as faster and more cohesive than club rugby. “Most of the guys have been playing their whole lives,” Zellars explained. “Everyone’s right where they’re supposed to be.”The 6-foot-3, 220-pound No. 8 man said he hopes to share some of the knowledge he gained during the offseason with his fellow Blue Goose members.”Zellars is the fittest guy in camp,” Reyes said before pausing. “Except for maybe Backhouse – he’s the fittest guy in North America.”Backhouse, a hard-nosed player who’s shed more than his fair share of blood over the years, has devoted more than two decades to the Goose.
This year’s Gentlemen will also feature a handful of promising newcomers, many of whom where brought on board by Pizzi, who plays for the Denver Harlequins during the fall and spring.”(Pizzi’s) a ‘Quin, but I’m calling him Goose,” Reyes said. “He’s committed to helping revitalize our team and he’s done a lot of recruiting.”The Goose, which will host four matches in June, could feature as many as 17 players for Saturday’s 15-man contest. According to Reyes, the more the merrier.”Our team is open to anyone,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if they have experience or not. We need the subs.”The Gentlemen of the Blue Goose’ upcoming home matchesAll matches begin at 3 p.m.
June 2 – AspenJune 9 – Glenwood DefianceJune 16 – VailJune 30 – Grand JunctionAdam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at email@example.com.
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