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Bolstered Blue Goose Rugby Club battling in Steamboat

Jason Starr

BRECKENRIDGE – Reinforcements have come to the Blue Goose Rugby Club, some from overseas, some from the neighborhood.

Just in time, too, as the locals started the season with an 0-2-2 record. But after bolstering the roster with experienced British players on holiday from the university and athletic Summit Countians with no rugby experience, the Blue Goose enjoyed a 69-10 home romp over Steamboat last week for its first win of the season. The team is trying to build on that this weekend in Steamboat’s domain at the annual Cowpie Rugby Classic, which continues with the semifinals and finals today.

The midseason influx of players is an annual rite for the Goose. It’s been helped this year by the Internet recruiting efforts of club president Doug Rowe, a British citizen.

“They usually e-mail us and want to come out to play rugby with us,” explained team captain Dustin Daugherty. “They have guys who have been out here before, and they talk it up when they go home to the younger guys.”

Ian Stamatakis-Brown plays on a semi-pro team in England. His first game with the Goose was the Steamboat win. He’s not only adjusting to the altitude but also to the way the game is played in Breckenridge.

“The rugby is very different out here,” he said. “Technically the guys are a bit naive at times, but they give their all and they love it.”

The other type of midseason acquisition is the local who saw the team’s fliers or advertisements around the county and came out to learn the game.

Just having the eager bodies makes practices more productive.

“The practices are a lot better,” Daugherty said. “You got more guys to practice with.”

It’s the job of coach Owen Rutledge to integrate the never-evers with the overseas talent and the local veterans.

“It’s tough, ’cause a lot of the guys are very keen, but they haven’t played the game before, and they’re reasonably athletic,” Rutledge said. “They all want to run, they all want to play and you’ve got to kind of build a cohesive unit.

“It’s getting to the stage where I have to say “alright, you guys are the (A team) and you guys are gonna have to make up the grade,’ and hopefully they’ll keep coming back.”

The fruits of this work is on display this weekend in Steamboat, where the level of competition is all over the place. Powerhouses like Vail and Aspen are there as is the Steamboat team that the Blue Goose trounced last week.

There are 12 teams in all, and each team will play at least four games. The Blue Goose hosts its tournament in Breckenridge Aug. 17-18.


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