Luck of the Irish carries Vail Rugby |

Luck of the Irish carries Vail Rugby

David L'Heureux

The Vail Rugby Club cruised to an easy 54-7 victory Saturday over a Denver Highlanders’ team that was outmatched from the start.

The game got off to a sluggish start with the Vail Blue playing hard, but not well. They did manage to punch in an early try on the individual effort of flanker, and captain for the day, Barry Powell of Ireland. It was Powell’s first of four tries, and one that would set an Irish tone for the day.

From there, Powell’s fellow Irishman and friend, Andrew Guckian, would take over. The team’s new scrum half added on two of his four tries to end the first half, one on a brilliant up-and-under move, to give Vail a 17-0 lead at the break.

“It was a little sloppy out there today,” said head coach Steve Doyle. “It was a bit disappointing early for us to get dragged down to their level. But rugby is a back-and-forth game, and I knew we’d pull away from them if we showed some better patience.”

The second half got off to a quick start with Vail’s Powell punching in another couple of tries, making the score 27-0. After that, the Denver squad dropped their heads, and it was mop-up time.

“These games are good for the club because it gives us a chance to get everybody some time in there,” said Doyle.

In fact, the Vail team used all 23 members on the squad today, including recent returnees Jeremy LaRochelle and former club president Ron Harris, both of whom showed a young man’s zest for the game combined with an aging man’s lungs.

Guckian and Powell both said they were pleased with the team’s performance and the progress the group has made in such a short span of time – especially considering that the team has numerous players playing unfamiliar or brand new positions.

“The whole team performance today was great,” said Guckian. “You can really see the guys coming together out there, even compared to last week. It’s nice to play in the warm weather too.”

The crowd came out, as well, Saturday. The sideline was littered with retired players, supporters, wives, girlfriends and children on a classic day for rugby in the mountains.

“It was great to see everyone out,” said club president Scott Marino. “This is the highlight of the year so far.”

Vail tacked on a couple more tries toward the end of the game, finishing fairly strong against a weaker opponent.

The team will take the weekend to enjoy this victory, knowing full well that the Gentlemen of Aspen are looming on the horizon next week. Vail Rugby will travel down valley next weekend to take on Aspen for the first of at least two games against their archrival.

“We’ll have to be ready next weekend,” said Doyle. “We won’t have the same fitness advantage we had today, against Aspen.”

On an unfortunate note, after his Vail Rugby Club finale against Aspen next weekend, the team will lose flanker Ryan Dean for the remainder of the season. The Battle Mountain High School teacher is leaving the valley for greener pastures at Quincy College in Quincy, Ill.

“We are really going to miss Ryan,” said injured-fly-half Brian Dalrymple. “He had a great game today and has been a great addition to the club since he’s been here.”

The Vail Daily would also like to apologize to former club member Greg Tarpy and his wife Suzanne for erroneously reporting the arrival of a new girl to the Tarpy clan. They actually had a baby boy.

Kickoff next weekend is at 3 p.m. in Aspen.

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