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Blue Goose rugby preparing for summer season

Jason Starr

BRECKENRIDGE – The team that parties together, pummels opponents together.

That’s what Bob Smith was banking on when he arrived in Breckenridge and joined the Gentlemen of the Blue Goose Rugby Club this spring. A longtime player on several different teams, Smith was attracted to the Blue Goose because of the closeness of its members.

“This team is really tight,” he said. “And teams that hang out together tend to play better together.”

Smith is one of a few brand new members of the Blue Goose, which began spring practice a few weeks ago. About 12 people have been coming out regularly on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The majority have been with the team for several years.

Owen Rutledge is going into his second year as coach. Rutledge has played and coached in such Rugby havens as New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Longtime local players, who have seen coaches come and go, are very happy to have him back.

“He’s an excellent coach,” said last year’s captain Alex Agre. “We know his system of play, we’re just perfecting it now, instead of learning what he wants us to do.”

The team is still in need of members. A full side is 15, a legitimate team is 20 and an ideal number is 30. The turnout is always low this time of year, but this season has been especially weak, and some of the veterans are starting to worry about whether they will be able to field a robust squad.

“We were a little better off last year,” Rutledge said. “We had a few more regulars out last year that have kind of gone into retirement this year.

The first game is scheduled for June 8, but players will be welcomed throughout the season, experienced or not.

“I think it’s like this a lot about this time of year, then suddenly guys come out of the woodwork,” Rutledge said. “They might see a game here and there then decide to put their boots on and come out.”

The Blue Goose had a rough year last year, playing the likes of Aspen and Vail, both of which get overseas players and are competitive nationally.

“Last year we got tied up with Vail and Aspen way too much, and they’re head and shoulders above us,” Rutledge said. “This year we’ve got some Front Range teams coming up, teams that are more along our level, so the guys won’t be getting pummelled by the big boys all the time.”

The Blue Goose will go up against Vail and Aspen at some of the mountain tournaments, including the one it hosts in August.

“There’s nobody easy on our schedule,” Agre said. “It’s good though. The higher the standard, the better you get.”

The Blue Goose meets at Carter and Kingdom parks in Breckenridge Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. Call team president Doug Rowe at (970) 453-2913, ext. 209, or Buck Goroski at (970) 453-8995 for more information.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.


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