Vail crushed Highlanders in opener
The keg was tapped just before kickoff. One minute into the game, the first rugby ball hit the adjacent sixth fairway of the Vail Golf Club.
The veterans led the way, while some new faces were pleasant surprises. By the second half, players were earning their nicknames for the season and the barbs were flying.
In short, it was the quintessential opener for Vail Rugby as the Blue and White crushed the Denver Highlanders 65-0 at the Vail Athletic Field Saturday. afternoon.
“Helluva surprise. The young guys especially came through. I’m very pleased. I was surprised with a half a dozen new guys still coming into the starting lineup so it can’t get any worse,” Trimble joked.
Heck, even the normally, stern-faced Dan Knox was in a light mood afterward. Of course, four tries in a game will normally do the trick.
“You’ve just got to whack him on the head and mix the marbles up a little,” Trimble quipped. “No, Dan always gives you a hundred percent. He’s full-on, full-steam in whatever he does.”
“What I would like to talk about is all these young kids,” Knox said. “I’m impressed with all these kids. There are a lot of guys who are new to the game and (player-coach) Fred (Waititi)’s done an incredible job of coaching them. They just keep coming at them.”
Fair enough. Vail has a fresh crop of college players, some alumni from the Vail Colts high school team. Brandon McDonald, who’s been tagged as Little Farmer, showed he’s clearly a chip off the old block – his father is Farmer McDonald, a Vail Old Boy. Young McDonald earned three points as the player of the game for his strong play in line-outs and in the scrum. (For the rugby-challenged, player-of-the-game honors are done the opposite as hockey’s postgame three stars. The three-point player is the first star.)
Knox earned two points and Brian Ross, a newcomer from Alamosa State, earned the final point.
“Fred would have been the player of the day, but seeing as he’s a coach, you can’t give him any points,” Trimble joked.
Yes, don’t forget Waititi. The New Zealander had two tries of his own including a dazzling 65-meter try to start the match. Knox followed with his first of four. It was 15-0 after Mike “Kiwi” Wilson touched down.
Kiwi Wilson, along with the likes of former Colt Sean Meehan, Knox and Waititi, then showed their defensive mettle, turning back a Highlanders’ drive at the two-meter line. Wilson started Vail’s fourth score with a line-out to Battle Mountain alum Ryan Madison, who got it to Greg Tarpy. From there, Tarpy flicked it to Aaron “Sampras” Romano-Meade for five.
Waititi to Knox and another from Knox gave Vail a 34-0 lead going into the half. Come the second half, it was clear that the atmosphere had lightened considerably on the Vail sideline. After Tarpy touched down for a 39-0 lead, Vail Old Boy Tim Parker blurted out, “Notice the definite lack of applause for the only South African present on and off the field. The verbal abilities of the South Africans are robust, but their physical presence is extremely lacking. We expect more of them.”
Pick-on-South-Africa Day continued on Vail’s next try when “Big” Will Preston started a drive with a pass to Tarpy. The South African took it a third of the way down the field before dishing to Waititi, who went the rest of the way.
“You only gave that one up so that you wouldn’t have to run that far,” needled wiley veteran Cameron Turner.
Simon Farley fed Darren Hersey for a 60-0 lead. Meehan rounded things out with the first try of his young career.
“Things like that they’re going to remember,” Trimble said. “They’re going to become part of the club from here on. All these young guys are going to be the future. Good to see so many of them out.”
While Saturday’s game was a good start, Trimble sees the result for what it is.
“We know we’ve got harder competition coming up,” he said. “So it was good to get that first one out of the way. It gives you a lot of confidence to see what they did. You can only work on that. It will only get better.”
Breakdown Balls: Trimble spread the credit around to the likes of Waititi, the backs coach, and Preston, who’s managing the forwards. “Fred and Will have done a great job coaching,” the guru said. “I’m just standing in the background right now. All credit to Fred and Will. They’ve done a great job.” … In addition to his try, Hersey added five conversions with his foot. …. Welcome back to veteran Keith McConnell, who’s back in town and saw action in the second half. “Keith McConnell returns from a six-year absence from the Vail Rugby Football Club, having been in Edinborough for the last six years,” Parker said. “He actually manages to put a good performance in for 30 seconds on the field before getting sent off. Thank you, Keith, for your effort.” … More barbs are on the way at Wednesday’s Vail Rugby Club Hall of Fame Dinner and Roast at the Seasons on the Green restaurant at the Vail Golf Club. In what is sure to be an entertaining and sudsy evening, Bill “Brownie” Brown, Pat “Farmer” McDonald and Charlie Penwill will be roasted by fellow Old Boys and current members of the club’s side, starting at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call club vice president Brian Dalrymple at (970) 390-6533 … Aspen made it a six-peat Saturday afternoon by topping Belmont Shore 34-23 in the finals of the USA Rugby National Championship.