Vail Rugby blanks Missoula
“Four years ago, we went up there and played them before our tournament on a Thursday,” Vail R.F.C. president Scott Marino said. “They handed it to us so that was the whole idea of bringing them down here.”
Vail returned the favor Saturday at the Vail Athletic Field, blanking the Maggots 27-0 Saturday afternoon. But, as is custom in rugby, there will be no hard feelings. Vail treated their visitors to a night on the town.
“There will definitely be a party. They’re a little bitter because last night our team didn’t go out drinking with them. Tonight our team will be out,” Marino joked.
On a serious note, the Vail players and assistant coaches dedicated the game to head coach Nick Trimble, who has left the team to return to his native New Zealand after the death of his father Friday. Both teams observed a moment of silence before the game and Vail wore black arm bands during the game.
“It’s a real shame. Nick means a lot to a lot of us,” Vail player-coach Fred Waititi said. “We wish he was still here, but we know when it’s the family, there are other things you have to take into consideration. Everyone’s feeling for him and we really wanted to put our stuff together, not only to win, but to win the way he’s tried to show us. Hopefully, we did.”
Vail acquitted itself finely, courtesy of a solid defensive effort and timely scoring. In a taut-opening 40 minutes, Waititi blocked a Missoula kick and set up a penalty. Darren Hersey converted the kick for a 3-0 lead.
Waititi was again in on the scoring on Vail’s first try of the afternoon. He took the ball out of the scrum and found Dan Knox, who bulled his way in for five. Knox finished the day with two tries, giving him six on the season in just three games.
“He’s just easy to read,” Waititi said of Knox. “Some guys run away from you. Some don’t. He’s one you can run off. The way he runs he draws a lot of guys into him. That makes it easy for the rest of us.”
Hersey converted on the try for a 10-0 halftime lead. Good pursuit by Hersey and the rest of the Blue and White helped El’andre Dutoit touch down early in the second half and Vail was off to the races. Graeme Moffat and Knox added tries to round out the scoring.
With the win, Vail moved to 3-0 on the season. More importantly, Saturday’s win was a good tonic after a somewhat lackluster 16-11 win last weekend at Glenwood Springs.
“It’s pleasing. Last week, we didn’t play the way we wanted,” Waititi said. “This week, we did. We’ve had a lot of interruptions with new players coming in and that’s been hard. But we’re starting to play the same game again.”
Vail heads down to Boulder Saturday for what should be a stiff test. A road fixture and longtime rival, Aspen, looms in two weeks.