Warmups? No need for the Old Boys | VailDaily.com

Warmups? No need for the Old Boys

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
SPT Vail Rugby vs. Aspen2 KL

VAIL ” Old Boys never really retire.

Even when the Vail Old Boys rugby players say they’ve played their last game, they inevitably come back for a game or two.

Today, when the Old Boys over-40 and over-50 squads take to the field, the usual cast of characters will be in uniform, each scoring their obligatory two tries (at least they’ll say so) and looking, er, claiming to be faster than last year.

Mike Monaco, the self-proclaimed all-time leading scorer, has been preparing for his over-50 squad to a win against the Colorado Old Boys.

“I’ve put on a few pounds,” Monaco said. “And I’ve been to the gym twice (in the past year), so I’m sure it’s just muscle mass.”

Monaco is excited to have some pseudo-retired players back.

“John Nichols is coming out of retirement,” Monaco said. “His hair will look good ” he doesn’t use Grecian or anything like that.”

And Monaco may have to use some stronger coaching techniques to help some other players hang up the spikes.

“Tony Neland ” we retired his jersey the past three year, but he can’t get the hint,” Monaco said.

Even though it’s still a year away, Monaco is already doing scouting for next year’s game.

“For the last six years I’ve been giving Bart (Cuomo) a hard look,” Monaco said. “I’m considering bringing him to the over-50 team next year.”

Cuomo, who played with Monaco recently on a touring team in Saranac Lake, N.Y., will celebrate his 49th birthday today with the under-40 squad.

“The Old Boys thing is such a tight-knit network,” Cuomo said. “One of the guys I toured with I had to play against in Saranac. And some guys from Aspen are coming over to play with us.”

The under-40 team will face the Boulder squad for the fourth year in a row.

“They are some of the best Old Boys in America,” Cuomo said. “For my brother (Andrew) and me, it’s the same guys we played against 10 years ago. It’s the same guys with gray hair. It’s like deja vu.”

After the under-40 team match, which starts at 11 a.m. at the Vail Athletic Field, the under-50 team will play. You can expect some of Old Boys to play in both matches, which Cuomo thinks is a bit ironic considering the lack of training most guys do.

“Now at this age when we need to be in shape, we just walk out and play,” he said.

Monaco, however, feels plenty ready.

“Bart and I had our warmup in Saranac,” said Monaco, who expects to score just two tries in the over-40 and over-50 matches. “I’m saving myself in case they need me for the ‘A’ side. I’ve got those ankle-breaking moves.”

When Vail takes on Aspen, it’s almost always a match with a title implications, personal plot lines, and the blood-boiling heated rivalry of Vail and Aspen.

This year, the match will be missing the championship trophy, as Steamboat clinched the league title with a win over Vail last weekend.

But don’t tell Vail coach/player Steve MacKinnon the game means nothing.

“It means everything,” MacKinnon said. “Especially on Old Boys weekend. We’ll have a big crowd and a lot of support ” there can only be one possible outcome.”

Last year, MacKinnon squared off against his former coach from Scotland, Steve Blair. This year, former Vail player Fred Waititi is at the helm of the Aspen squad.

“Freddy is a real good friend of mine. I spoke with him twice today already,” MacKinnon said Friday night. “He’s been telling me he can’t get a team together. He’s lying. And I’m telling him I’m in the same boat. We play these games with each other.”

After the Old Boys play, the ‘A’ side will get underway at around 3 p.m. Next weekend, Vail heads to Aspen to close out league play.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

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