Glenwood rugby shocks Aspen, 37-20
Vail, CO Colorado
Huddling in a circle, the Glenwood Defiance gave three cheers for the referee, three cheers for Aspen and three very loud cheers for itself before erupting into celebration.
And with good reason ” Glenwood had just defeated the Gentlemen of Aspen, 37-20.
In the 14-year history of the Defiance, the feat has never been accomplished against the Gents, a team that has won seven national championships in its 40-year history.
“We have had our a—-s kicked 100-0 probably four times ” twice last year,” said Tim Swanson, one of the team’s founders. “We’ve never won. I just want to call everybody and tell them.”
Glenwood’s offense charged down the field thanks to the kicking and running skills of fly half Morgan Harris, a player the Defiance recruited from Wales to play for the summer.
Harris scored two tries and went 3-for-3 on penalty kicks and 4-for-4 on conversion kicks to account for an additional 17 points.
“Since we have been here, all we have heard is Aspen, Aspen, Aspen,” Harris said. “So these guys said they hadn’t beaten them in 14 years, and we just beat them so that’s bigger than ever.”
Harris was just the start of Glenwood’s impressive backline. He was joined by three more foreign ruggers, with Teddy Omondi and Caesar Omdula, of Kenya, and James Robertson, of New Zealand.
“We knew it would be a game where there was a separate game in the backs and a separate game in the forwards,” said first-year Glenwood coach Graham Askew. “It’s almost like watching two different games. Kudos to the boys, they brought it out there today.”
After Aspen scored the first try of the game to go up 7-0, Omondi tied the score by dodging Gents defenders and even bounding over one like a hurdle to reach the try zone.
Both teams hit penalty kicks in the following minutes before Aspen scored another try but missed the conversion to take a 15-10 lead at halftime.
The Gents came out running in the second half and came close to scoring, but the try attempt was held up by the Defiance, which was solid on defense all day.
“Everything was clicking, and everyone was making their hits, and that’s what wins it is the defense,” said Defiance winger Keith Jones.
After a 70-meter run by Robertson put the ball close to Aspen’s try zone, the Defiance forwards took over, crashing through the Gents for a try to go up, 17-15, with 30 minutes to go in the match.
It didn’t take long for the Defiance to add to its lead as Josh Martin picked up a ball and charged through the Gents for another try five minutes later. Harris hit the kick and Glenwood had a 24-15 advantage.
Omondi and Omdula, who have played together on and off for two years in Kenya, worked the ball down the left side of the field with quick runs and on-the-mark passing. When Aspen’s defense slowed them down, Omondi switched directions, passing the ball right, where Harris had an overload and ran in for another score.
Harris hit two more penalty kicks, and while Aspen had the last try, Glenwood had the last laugh.
“We are the spoilers,” Jones said. “It’s a great position to be in because everybody kind of writes you off.”
Glenwood now stands at 1-1 in the Mountain Rugby League, while Aspen, which also lost to Steamboat 27-0 last week, fell to 1-2.
Up next, Glenwood will take on 3-0 Steamboat on Saturday in Steamboat Springs.
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