Vail Rugby opens against the Babas Saturday
Yes, the white stuff was dumping Thursday evening as the Vail Rugby Football Club worked out.
“I tried to get out of practice, but (coach Nick) Trimble wouldn’t let me. I thought veterans didn’t have to run in the rain,” Vail vet Greg Tarpy said.
That’s the bad news, Tarps. The good news is that the forecast is for 63 degrees and sunny Saturday when the Blue and White hosts the Denver Barbarians in the season opener. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
Trimble will be there presiding in his role of spiritual adviser, guru and, yes, head coach.
“Dragged out of retirement,” Trimble joked.
“We bribed him with beer,” club president Scott Marino said.
Trimble is no stranger to the Vail sideline and he has two great assistants in forwards coach and Huntington Beach and Vail veteran “Big” Will Preston and backline coach and player New Zealander Fred Waititi.
Waititi comes to Vail from the Super-12 League in New Zealand. He will play fly half and halfback as well as his coaching duties.
“He comes from that new breed of player at home,” said Trimble, himself a fellow New Zealander. “He knows the new game back to front so he brings all the new training methods. He brings new attitude to the guys. Also, he brings his skills with him, which are pretty silky.”
“In New Zealand, we like to keep the ball moving and move it as quickly as possible. It seems to be a lot slower here,” Waititi said. “It’s going to be a good chance to change. I think we’re in for a lot of fun. They guys we’ve got are teachable. They’re willing to learn and listen.”
Club management has new faces also in 2002. Marino, a Vail vet, is the president and is working closely with Brian Dalrymple, the vice president.
“Brian was the only one on the ballot,” Trimble joked.
In all seriousness – if that’s possible – Marino and company hope to get the club on sound financial footing off the pitch, while continuing to keep Vail’s winning tradition on it.
“I’d like to see us develop a stronger, financially based club so that we can do more things,” Marino said. “When I first came to the club we were able to travel to Seattle. We did a big tour every year. The club was well-run by Phil Bennett back then. I’d say that our main goal is that we want to have a successful season and end up with some money in the bank account so we can have an even better season next year.”
Toward that end, the club is hosting the the Inaugural Vail Rugby Club Hall of Fame Dinner and Roast on June 12 at the Vail Golf Club. In what is sure to be 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.
“The real purpose of it that we’re starting the Vail Rugby Club’s Hall of Fame and we want to recognize the guys who founded the club and were really instrumental in making the club,” Marino said. “There’s just too many people coming out of the woodwork with stories about Brownie. We’re hoping the evening’s long enough.”
On the pitch, Vail returns the familiar faces in the likes of Tarpy Dalrymple, Dan Knox, Will Mansour and Ben Crook. The roster should be filled in as the season goes on. Trimble expects that Vail will roster 35-40 players, which means plenty of B-side games.
The A-side opens Saturday with the Babas, followed by Queen City June 1 and the Highlanders on June 8. Another highlight of the schedule is a June 22 fixture against the Missoula Maggots at the Vail Athletic Field.
“They’re a great social side, who play a very tough level of American rugby,” Marino said. “They’re making a 16-hour drive to come down and go river rafting with us and play some good rugby.”
Vail heads to to Aspen July 6. it’s the first of three trips for the Blue and White to Pitkin County. Ski Town (July 27-28) and Ruggerfest (Sept 22-23) are also in Aspen. The Gentlemen make their annual visit to Vail on Aug. 24.
“Well, beating Aspen is the No. 1 goal,” Tarpy said. “But it’s nice if one of these kids develops into a good player. To me, at this level we’re playing here, that’s good enough. To watch one play some good rugby at another club, that would be awesome.”
Breakdown Balls: The Vail RFC has its newest member in the fold. Ethan Lloyd Bennett was born Wednesday at 6 pounds and 18 inches give or take. Congratulations to Vail alum Phil Bennett and his better half, Tamara. ‘There’s a little boy Bennett running around. So I’d say lock up your daughters,” Marino said. … Sponsors of Vail Rugby in 2002 include Garfinkels, Coors, Meadow Mountain Plumbing and Heating, The Paint Bucket and Steadman Hawkins. … For more information on the Hall of Fame Roast, call (970) 390-6533. The club is also trying update its record on all the Old Boys. Even if you’re not attending, Old Boys are encouraged to keep in touch. Call 479-9917 or 476-3933. … The club is also welcoming all newcomers to try out the sport. There will be plenty of opportunities to get a run in. Practices are on Tuesday and Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the Vail Athletic Field.