Blue Goose ruggers ready to rebound
BRECKENRIDGE – The Gentlemen of the Blue Goose Rugby Club would rather forget last summer.Tournaments aside, the Breckenridge-based ruggers recorded just one victory on the season.”We got a little bit too social last summer,” the Goose’ second-year captain Zack Zellars said. “I think we took things less seriously than in the past.”The Goose, which opens its season today at home against Aspen, responded to last summer’s debacle by re-hiring Peter Shafroth as its head coach. The now third-year coach has returned to the Goose after a year away.”We went to him,” Goose president Ron Reyes said. “He’s really competitive and we need a coach like that to help us get back on track. Not that we expect him to save the day, but he should make a difference.”The Gentleman’s one-win campaign, which was coached by Mike Pobar, came in the wake of two consecutive .500 seasons with Shafroth on the staff. Shafroth focused on working with the team’s forwards during his first year, then came back the following year as head coach, Zellars said.
“Of course we don’t blame Pobar for last year,” the Goose captain said. “But Shafroth used to play for the (Denver) Barbarians, he has a good knowledge of the game and he’s a bit more strict.”The Barbarians play in the Rugby Super League – the highest level of rugby in the United States.Zellars seems to appreciate his coach’s desire to attract more young players to the Goose.”If you continue to rely on guys that have put in their time and you’re not putting new guys in the mix, you’re going to run out of steam somewhere down the line,” Zellars said. “That’s part of what happened last year.”According to Reyes, another factor in last year’s “downfall” was the team’s small roster. “This year we’re looking stronger as far as numbers,” the Goose’ president said. “We’ve had between 14 and 18 (players) coming out to our practices.”
Roster size clearly did not hurt the Goose during its annual home tournament in February, as the local club stomped its way to a second consecutive St. Valentines’ Day Massacre championship.”The Massacre is a 10s tournament and during the summer we play 15s ,” Reyes said referring to the number of players on each side. “In playing 10s, we still had a few subs. It was right up our alley.”The Goose has recently bolstered its squad with several out-of-town recruits.Joe Pizzi is one of five or six Front Range players that has attended a Blue Goose practice this preseason.Pizzi plays for the Denver Harlequins during the spring and fall and is also a former member of the Barbarians.”I traveled with them for three years,” he said. “I rode the pine the whole time.”
Pizzi is no stranger to the High Country.”I’ve played in several Massacres and I’ve know some of the Goose’ players for a long time,” he said. “It’s an honor to be playing up here. Rugby in the mountains, you can’t beat it.”The new recruits will try to fill a void that will be left by team veterans Buck Goroski, Russel Backhouse and Jon Wood. The experienced tandem of Goroski and Backhouse will become part-time players and Wood is inactive following knee surgery, Reyes said.The Goose will face mountain-powerhouse Aspen today at 3 p.m. in the confines of Kingdom Park.”Aspen has been one of the best teams in the country in the past,” Zellars said. “But last year they dropped out of the Super League, so it could be a rebuilding year for them.””I think I’m more excited about this game then I am about the rest of the season,” four-year Goose member John Terrill said. “We owe Aspen big and we’re going to make sure they get it.”
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