Vail rugby storms past Blue Goose
Blue and Whites move to 2-0 with 52-7 winBy Richard ChittickSummit County correspondentDuring the football season, red zone conversions – a team’s ability to carry the ball into the end zone after driving it to within the 20-yard line – can make or break a team’s ability to win a game. In rugby, the red zone extends to the 22-yard line. Most rugby players don’t recognize the area as the red zone, and are, in fact, loathe to use any terms from the Americanized version of their sport.But that didn’t stop head coach Peter Shafroth from making the comparison in explaining the Gentlemen of the Blue Goose’s 52-7 loss to the Vail Rugby Club at Kingdom Park on Saturday.
“We were in their zone a lot of times,” he said after the game. “But what we’re not doing is finishing.” Over and over again, the Blue Goose pushed their way down the field, getting to within inches of the try-line before making a critical mistake that allowed Vail to get the ball back out. The Gentlemen would continue to apply pressure, but in a manner much like last week, when the Blue Goose faced the Denver Highlanders, superior speed and more accurate lateral passing allowed Vail to quickly scramble up the pitch.And in Vail’s case, red zone conversions came swiftly, as players would break free and score from 20 yards out, especially their fastest forward, Fred Waititi. Waititi scored the first try of the game that way, and went on to score three more.Despite the lopsided score, Shafroth and his players agreed that they played a more disciplined game than Vail in the scrums and rucks, where the ball is not in the air as much. “I think we tackled a lot better than last week,” Shafroth said. “But we lost the ball at critical times. Overall, though, we outplayed them in the scrums.”
Shafroth’s words weren’t rhetoric, either.Said the Blue Goose’s Zach Zellars, “Just ask them – they’ll tell you the same thing.”And they did.”For the most part, it was pretty even,” Waititi said. “It was only when we got in the open that we could get anything done.” Vail’s head coach, Mark Bullock, nearly echoed Shafroth when he said: “It was an interesting game, because Breckenridge won most of the posession, but they weren’t able to finish.” If anything, the ground plays that the Blue Goose dominated gave Bullock and his players a wake-up call as to what they should be working on in the coming weeks.”Those plays gave us a lot of material to improve upon in training,” Bullock said. “When there was a tackle made, we didn’t play well, and in my view, they outplayed us.”
Shafroth had his eye on his team’s fallacies as well. “Our experience is in our forwards,” he said. “But our weakness is in our backs. We just don’t have a lot of speed in our backs.” But even so, the Gentleman are holding their heads high and looking forward to the rest of the season.”We’re improving every week,” Zellars said. “Everthing was jelling a lot more today.” Vail (2-0) heads to the Ski Town Tournament next weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyo.Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at email@example.com.