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Vail RFC opens at Breck 7’s

VAIL – The Vail Rugby Football Club opens its 33rd campaign Saturday at the Breckenridge 7’s Tournament and that means only one thing – let the ribbing begin.

The poor victim at Thursday’s session at the Vail Athletic Field was Blue and White veteran, Morris McNamee.

“I don’t recognize anybody. Oh, there’s Morris, and he’s carrying his child,” quipped Old Boy Tim Parker.

“He looks like he’s having twins,” teammate Brian Dalrymple chimed in.

“I’m looking at Morris and that guy’s nearly touching 40,” Cameron Turner said. “I think it’s time for him to forget about playing and think about coaching. But the trouble is he can’t coach.”

Sorry, Mo. The good news is that there will be plenty of time for you to retaliate throughout the summer. Vail has a busy summer ahead with familiar faces back for another season on the pitch, including the likes of Dalrymple, Ben Crook, Ryan Dean, Barry Powell, Craig Parker, Greg Tarpy, Dan Knox, Turner, Charles Guadeloupe, Neil Webb, some local high-schoolers and, yes, Morris.

The Blue and White is missing a few others, including Will Mansour and Fred Waititi, who are playing for Aspen’s Super League team. This, of course, brings up the dilema for the local side as the Gentlemen travel to face undefeated Belmont this weekend. What to think?

1) Vail is rooting for Aspen to lose, just as a matter of principle.

2) Vail is rooting for Aspen to lose, so the Blue and White can get Mansour and Waititi back in town.

3) Then, there’s the diplomatic approach from Vail coach Steve Doyle: “I think there’s a bit more respect for each other between the clubs because we’re giving them players and vice versa. For Rockies pride, we want Aspen to win, but I think it’s going to a tough one for (Aspen).”

Vail will have its shot at Aspen July 5 down in Pitkin County and the Gentlemen will be calling on the friendly confines Aug. 16. Before that though, it’s time for 7’s at Breck.

The format is for 14-minute games in pool play with crossover play later in the afternoon. Vail has the Denver Barbos’ A-side, the Denver Highlanders and Queen City in its group. This should make for some interesting play as the Barbos are a 7’s powerhouse. Then, there’s the matter of playing the Highlanders, with whom Vail has shared, shall we say, a very spirited rivalry during the last few seasons.

On the other side of the bracket, it’s Breckenridge, Barbos B, Boulder and Colorado State.

“It’s going to be tough for the guys because we just started,” club president Scott Marino said. “We’re going to have a lot of guys sucking wind and hurting. But we’re going to bring 14 players and you only have to put seven out. So we’re allowed to do a lot of substitutions. The bonus and, I think what the coach is looking for, is just to get the guys out for some contact. They can start to tackle and get the feel of rugby again.”

Dalrymple believes that the key will be defense at Kingdom Park on Saturday.

“Sevens is a matter of defense,” the Terp said. “If you have one little hole, they’ll exploit it. It’ll be 58-0. I’d rather our defense be solid and we lose by seven points than our offense be great, score three tries and still lose by 30 points.”

After this weekend’s tournament, it’s back to Breck next weekend for a regular fixture. One week later, this year’s edition of the Blue and White will make some history by playing at Glenwood under the lights. Vail’s home opener comes June 14 against the aforementioned Highlanders.

Home games for Vail are always special and the local 15 treasures them.

“Look at the views,” Dalrymple said. “You’ve got the Gore Range and, at practice time, you’ve got these gorgeous sunsets. That’s the reason I still keep coming out playing. I’m 31 and I’ve got more injuries than I can count. But I still want to keep coming out and playing because the Saturday atmosphere is second-to-none. Beer, barbeque and friends, it’s nice.”

And, speaking of nice, be nice to Morris. After this article, he’s probably had a rough morning.

Lineouts: Vail Rugby is sponsored by Meadow Mountain Plumbing, Garfinkel’s, The Paint Bucket and David Honda’s Vail Sports Medicine Physical Therapy. The last company on that list is a great move for the club because David Honda’s Vail Sports Medicine Physical Therapy will be providing trainers at practices, as well as home and away games. … Justin Henderson will be serving the club as vice president. Former VP Dalrymple is now the treasurer. There is no truth to the rumor that he used to work for Enron. … Tournaments: Ski Town is in Glenwood on July 19-20; Mountain 15’s is at Breck on Aug. 23-24 and Ruggerfest caps the season in Aspen in September. … Old Boys weekend is July 12-13. Bring your liver.

Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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