Monday, October 9, 2017

Rocky Mountain Rugby MD-2

The Rocky Mountain Rugby men’s division-2 competitions went the way of the visiting sides on the weekend in all three matches. Boulder Rugby broke open a tight, 17-14 at-half contest with 17 second stanza numbers to triumph over Denver Harlequins at Cook Park, 34-14, to start the day; in the match of the weekend, Park City Haggis displayed grit and determination in sealing their road win over the Merlins on the StoveTop at Infinity, 46-43; and Barbarians, claimed undisputed ordering rights at table behind an 71-12 blasting of Highlanders in the second of six seasonal Battles for Denver at the Jake.

Inside center, Sean Kilfoyle, a TRY League-Rugby Colorado-University of Colorado product, led his XV past Harlequins on Cook Park’s Cooker Rugby Grounds, expressing consummate defensive and offensive skills as well as accounting for 19 of the visitors tally on a brace of touch downs, three conversions and a penalty. With the five-point win, Boulder have evened their record at 1-1-0 and ready for next RugbyDay’s (Saturday being the RugbyDay!) road trip to Denver and Highlanders at the Jake.

Haggis and Merlins were as two heavyweights, administering thunderous body blows of pack probes in pick-and-goes, and clinically elegant jabs in the form of backline incision as the XVs counted 89 points total. Travelers returned from 27-38 deficit with three touch downs in the final 10 minutes to carry the win at 46-43.

It was Statement Day the first forty at the Jake as Barbarians outside center, Michael Al-Jiboori dotted a hat trick of trys, flyer Antwun Baker grounded a brace and five other Barbarians dotted in the comprehensive, 71-12 win that puts the Men in Green in sole possession of the ordering seat at the table. Highlanders did not lack for opportunity in their guests 22, but Barbos defensive denied resolutely with a meaty ferocity sufficient to the task of blanking their opponents through the initial 68 minutes of the show. Barbarians are definitely the class of this league just now, and if they keep this side intact through next spring, they’ll be repping the Rocky Mountain Rugby and the West in the National Championship. Ajarrista, Al-Jiboori, Collins & Co are that good though we make that call along with the caveat they maintain their present matchday roster.

Denver Barbarians         3            0            0            15
Denver Highlanders       2            1            0            10
Glendale Merlins            1            3            0            8
Park City Haggis            1            0            0            5
Boulder Rugby               1            2            0            5
Denver Harlequins         0            2            0            0

Upcoming the weekend, Saturday 10.14:
·       Park City Haggis (5) v Denver Barbarians (15) in Utah – should be a blinder!
·       Denver Highlanders (10) v Boulder Rugby (5) at the Jake, noon kick – as good as you like… I’m goin’, you in’?

·       Denver Harlequins (0) v Glendale Merlins (8) noon at the Cooker; Merls need a win to get back on track… ‘Quins  seeking their first joy of the season

Sunday, October 1, 2017

RMR: MD2 - Glendale Merlins v Denver Highlanders

Merls pressure v 'Landers resilience

Warm sun with an overcast incoming on a bit of crossfield westwind at the first whistle and kick of the match that would see about the early points lead in Rocky Mountain Rugby division-2 men's table on the StoveTop at Infinity between first place Merlins and first place Highlanders, each with a handful of match digits and each looking to prove  their mettle at the expense of the other. Glendale were looking to keep their momentum ongoing after their comprehensive defeat of Boulder Rugby last weekend, while the Highlanders sought similar circumstance and identical outcome; sides were all locked and loaded awaiting referee Brighton Khumalo's starting signal.

Highlanders 10, Adam Price, hoisted the high, hanging drop and his cohort swarmed the receiving Merlins forward, their determined effort making for turnover in the Glendale half just outside the 22. A couple of banging, crabbing  pick-and-goes with minimal forward movement before breakdown and penalty awarded to the visitors at a failure to release infraction; opportunity for the shot on goal wayward in the second minute and Glendale restarted from their 22 with the dropout.

Denver remained in the Merlins half, however, making slow yet certain progress toward goal, well aided and abetted by the occasional Merlins penalty until a sweeping movement wide saw outside center Matt Soderman across in the corner for a try that put Highlanders with the 5-nil lead in the 5th minute of action.

Denver were enjoying the great majority of territory and possession due their speed to and intensity at breakdown in the first 20 minutes and they were rewarded as loosehead prop, Mike "Bilbo" Backens executed a thundering, lumbering, jinking scoot through the hosts defense to touch down 'neath the posts for Price's conversion and it was 12-0 for Denver on 20 minutes.

Highlanders kept pressure on in short, probing pick-and-goes from breakdown and questions posed in the midfield, but slowly the "effect" pendulum began to favor the home squad as it was Highlanders who were getting pinged and Merlins who were making the gainline+.

Glendale with the put just inside Highlanders 10 meter line. Won and distributed to flyhalf, Thomas Gumbley, who dead-legged to space and made ideal communication with scrumhalf Trevor Wilder, who finished fast for five and 12-5 yet for Denver, but Glendale had announced themselves well in the 36th minute.

Highlanders and the quickly-tapped penalty from 25 meters out caught Merlins napping and the inside handoff to Price saw him cross unscathed for his own conversion and the lads went to lockers for hydration, inspiration and instruction with tallies at 19 and 5 after Khumalo sounded the halftime break. Highlanders won the first 40 showing better fitness, determination and fashion at breakdown with Merlins looking a bit slow and sluggish as reaction. Glendale were sniffing the paint at the conclusion of the opening innings, so the competition a bit closer than the Highlander's two converted goals lead may have indicated.

Second stanza got underway with each side seeking to substantiate their own pattern: Highlanders with the bang-bang from breakdown before cycling to their thus far impressive threequarters, and Merlins keeping the pill tight and close and working the maul inexorably upfield with purpose.

Glendale with the wonscrum at Highlanders 22 setting to goal before gaining the penalty and the kick to touch for a lineout on the edge of Highlanders business district, 10 meters from goal. Toss captured by Merlins leaper and maul angling powerful into the Promised Land with blindside flanker George Bristow and his drop-down touch for five-made-seven by Wilder, and 19-12 in the 51st minute - StoveTop's burner on high just then.

Highlanders stretched the lead back to 14 with a try scored by hard-charging inside center, Ahron Osheroff, and Price with the added deuce: 26-12 at 55'.

The final 10 minutes and IT were like a raucous, heavyweight battle with both XVs slugging away and counter-punching desperate: Denver's flyhalf slotted a penalty to make it 29-12 before Gross touched down for Highlanders and 36-12 the scoreline in the 69th minute.

Glendale struck back on inside center Dennis Papike's grounding and own conversion: 36-19 at 73'; Gross got his brace with Price's +two and 43-19 the numbers; a further touch down for the homeside by Gumbley, with Papike's +two made it 43-26 in injury time; and a last five for Denver as replacement back Rocco Petramala intercepted a pass and scampered to goal for the 48-26 result at Field Master K's last blast.


Glendale - Try: Wilder, Bristow, Gumbley, Papike; Con: Wilder (3);
Highlanders - Try: Soderman, Backens, Price, Osheroff, Gross (2), Petramala;                            Con: Price (4); Pen: Price

Match Official: Brighton Khumalo


Friday, September 29, 2017

RMR D-2 Men Tomorrow, Saturday, 9.30

One pair of hot, D-2 fixtures on the schedule this weekend on Saturday, the morrow:

Denver Barbarians, currently leading best in show, roll up route 36 to do battle with Boulder Rugby at the primary pitch in the state, PleasantView Rugby Grounds. Barbos are coming off a bye week, while Boulder dropped their opener to Glendale Saturday last. Never any love lost ‘twixt these auld enemies, but always the good rugby. Boulder and the Barbo have better than a century of rugby between them. High noon boot in the college town.

Glendale Merlins, who lost to the Barbos in the league’s first match Down the Kettle, host upstart Denver Highlanders newly arrived from D-3 and impressing in their initial match last weekend v Denver Harlequins. 1pm kickoff on the StoveTop at Infinity. Merlins can score often and their defense was flawless in blanking Boulder last outing; Highlanders notso bad, too, in their win over the Quins at the Jake. Now that the Merlins are in MD-1 competition as a member of Red River Rugby Conference, one could see quite a few prospective D-1 players onpitch tomorrow. Stern test for Highlanders; nevermind the weather, this is bound to cast a heated brand of the pill up ‘Top.

Three of four squads playing on the weekend have five table points, the Denver clubs and Glendale. It promises to be an ideal day for sport for anyone canny enough to avail themselves of the concept.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

RMR: MD-2 - 'Landers v 'Quins

Highlanders v Harlequins
Highlanders halfback, Zach Dickerson*, prepares the distribution 

Newly-promoted Denver Highlanders announced their return to the Rocky Mountain Rugby (RMR) men’s division 2 table in large fashion, blanking their down-street rivals, Denver Harlequins, in consummate fashion at Francis Jacobs Memorial Rugby Grounds on Saturday. Highlanders had ruled RMR men’s division 3 the past three years earning top honors in that league each season, while Harlequins had failed to place in the upper competition though ‘Quins are ever the dangerous opponent.

Cool and overcast with rain threatening from the west at kickoff in Round 1 of the league’s six Battles for Denver fought between a trio of Denver clubs: Highlanders, Harlequins and Barbarians; Barbo’ were idle this weekend. 

Homeboys hoisted the high hanger at referee Steve Gore’s starting whistle and the turnover at breakdown had Highlanders inside ‘Quins ten-meter line probing in multiple phases down to the 22. Harlequins snared the interception in the midfield and now Highlanders backed onto the rear leg and guests streamed upfield and into ‘Landers territory only to turn the pill over with a knock-on.

The home XV backline were making the  gainline plus, but Highlanders failure to release – both ball at tackle on offense and the tackled player while defending – resulted in a pair of penalties that enabled the visitors to keep pressure on in the early stages of the contest.

Harlequins popped a looker into the box that ran far, but was gathered by Highlanders 15, Brian Dutill, and the blistering counter ran into ‘Quin territory before the offload to Pinnick allowed for the flyer’s close and a 5-nil lead for the hosts in the 13th minute.

Highlanders straight back for more after receiving the re-start as inside center Ahron Osheroff put outside center Matt Soderman in space to finish for five and second row Sean Welfare’s conversion: 12-0 after 17 minutes. Home team looking sharp and hungry right now; travelers appearing a bit disheveled and out of step midway through the first forty minutes of action.

Highlanders would stretch their lead to 19 before the half as Pinnick got his brace and Welfare, his second completion. More possession in favorable territory earned by their forwards industry at both the set piece and the breakdown for Highlanders cause for joy for the homeside; a good deal of possession for Harlequins as well, but handling errors in their vaunted three-quarters line made for possession exchange and consternation, much to Highlanders benefit. 19-0 for the home team as Gore sounded the halftime break.

The second stanza mirrored the initial verses with Osheroff, Dutill, 8man Josh Slater and loosehead Cortez Rangel grounding for Highlanders, all made seven by Welfare for a 47-0 result at Gore’s last blast.

              Highlanders – Try: Pinnick (2), Soderman, Osheroff, Dutill, Slater, Rangel; Con: Welfare (6)

Match Official: Steve Gore

Next up on Saturday, 9.30:
              Glendale Merlins v Denver Highlanders at Infinity, noon boot;

              Boulder Rugby v Denver Barbarians at PleasantView, noon;

* Dickerson, a Rugby Colorado (SWARM) and Regis University product, is our Man of the Match. Highlanders three-quartersline were prolific in action, but they'll not see that play if their #9's delivery is not constant, consistent and precise; Zach's was all three, all day

Friday, September 22, 2017

RMR: Men's D-2 Preview

Rocky Mountain Rugby: MD-2

The 2017/18 USA Rugby men’s d-2 competition got underway with a bang down the Kettle at Infinity a fortnight ago and Denver Barbarians were convincing in their 36-24 victory over arch-nemesis, Glendale Merlins-née-Raptors. Three of the remaining four clubs in the regional competition start league play on the morrow, and though the Barbos have set the standard thus far in the young season, each XV in the 6-team competition is capable quaffing from the Rocky Mountain Rugby men’s d-2 championship flagon come next April.

The Merlins, who’ll undoubtedly be in the mix during the spring run to the playoffs, roll up route 36 to Colorado’s finest paddock at PleasantView for a derby with Boulder Rugby and a noon kick. Glendale will not like opening their innings with defeat to the Barbo and will seek redress on the road tomorrow; Boulder, a perennial finisher in the league, will be looking for joy from their initial outing and levying despair on their guests; end of the day, too-close:to-call.

Newly promoted Denver Highlanders take on rival from the Oneida Hood, Denver Harlequins, at ‘Landers daunting bastion the Jake in also a 12pm boot. Harlequins, as ever, will field a formidable XV of canny, fit players with plenty of gas in the tanks of their outside three quarters, and large, sparking potential of the front eight. Meanwhile their hosts, eager for the return to the region’s top division and a statement-win, will need to damp the explosive charge of the ‘Quins pack and contain their back-three backs, both offensively and crucially on the fools’ methodic counter. Only one who knows how this one’s gonna turn out just now would be WW, Himself.

The aforementioned five will be joined October 7 by a squad from the other side of the Divide, Park City Haggis, as the Utah club enters the fray in a large way, hosting the Merlins at their magical mountain redoubt in the Utah SkiTown up the canyon from SLC. Himself’s Favorite Meal after a night out will take on Barbarians the following weekend, 10.14, in Park City; the outcomes of these two fixtures will go a considerable way in determining the fall alignment of the division, one should think.

2017-18 promises to be the best show yet on Rocky Mountain Rugby’s estimable timeline marquee, though one would be somewhat foolhardy to predict spring’s champion at this early stage.

Image result for suicide prevention lifeline

Sunday, September 10, 2017

MD-2 Season bangs open at Infinity

Denver Barbarians v Glendale Merlins

Merlins halfback, Carlo De Nysschen, looks to cycle the wonscrum in early action down the Kettle
Warm with hazy clouds and breezes incoming the west at kickoff of the battle between last season's numbers one and two. The Men in Green had beaten the  then-Raptors second division squad last meeting in April by a tenner and would look to improve on that estimable performance in the league opener; the Glendale XV, newly minted as "Merlins", would seek another result altogether.

Field magistrate Stu Geiger whistled the kickoff, Barbos standoff Charles Ajarrista hoisted the high hanger, and it was well and truly game-on as 2017-2018 Rocky Mountain Rugby men's division 2 competition came alive with gusto just beyond Glendale's 10 meter line, each side set to testing the other's defense in punishing probes of their big men from breakdown and zippy, physical challenges by their three-quarters lines.

A Denver lineout was won and spun out wide, but mishandling in the outer regions led to turnover by the swarming Merlins and blindside Marshall Godfrey claimed the pill and the points after touching down for scrumhalf Carlo De Nysschen's conversion: Merlins 7 and Barbos nil, early.

The Barbarians response came swift and surely as Ajarrista put center Michael Al-Jiboori in space at the Glendale 22, employing a wee nifty misdirect back inside for Al-Jiboori to finish fast and touch down; with Ajarrista's plus two we were all level in the 15th minute.

De Nysschen and Ajarrista traded missed penalty attempts and Godfrey went to the bin for a tip tackle, then Denver used the one-man advantage to employ the Ajarrista-Al-Jiboori connection to loose flyer, Antwun Baker, to close for his try. Another deuce from Ajarrista and the Barbo had their first lead of the match at 14-7 at the 36th minute.

Short-handed Merlins drew level at the last of the half as wing, Harley Davidson, fought well and bravely through the final two meters to ground, along with De Nysschen's completion, the leveler and 14-for-the-house as Geiger sounded the midpoint blast and it was lads to lockers for hydration, instruction and inspiration.  Barbarians went ahead on their ability to capitalize the one-man advantage, yet were unable to maintain that  edge as Merlins magic enabled the halftime knot.

De Nysschen edged Glendale in front with a sticksplitter at 50': 17-14 for Merlins now.

Barbarians back on top after Baker made the corner inside his own half and blistered the sideline to try for Ajarrista's conversion and 21-17 for Denver just now at 55 minutes.

Denver would stretch their lead beyond the magical 8 (or two scores) when backrow lock Jason Christensen picked up from the wonscrum five meters out and blasted his way to goal for five and 26-17 Barbos at minute number 64.

Glendale were a bit eager and offside to the gainline for Geiger's liking and the penalty and Ajarrista's ensuing touchkick had Barbos 12 meters out from Glendale's Promised Land with the lineout throw. Snagged and distributed along the dangerous Denver three-quarters line and Denver halfback, Carmine Hernandez made to space inside the Glendale 22 and then to goal to ground; Ajarrista popped two more through the uprights and Barbarians were up comfortably, 33-17, near time.

Merlins had magic left though, as inside center, Dennis Papike, from the pivot behind the scrum, put a looker over the Barbo defense for his own collection and  Nick Boyer's conversion; 33-24 now yet for the Barbos, but in the 76th minute one might think... fantastic finish? 

Not to be, as Ajarrista, cleaved the posts for another trio of points and a record of 36-24 for Barbarians was recorded at Geiger's last blast.

             Merlins - Try: Godfrey, Davidson, Papike; Con: De Nysschen  (2), Boyer; Pen: De Nysschen;
             Barbarians - Try: Al-Jiboori, Baker (2), Christensen, Hernandez; Con: Ajarrista (4); Pen: Ajarrista

Match Officials: Stu Geiger (Referee); Paul Knowles, Brian Zapp (RAs)

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Glendale Rugby XVs... YAY!

Puttin’ the Kettle on!

If this is your favorite time of the year and your favorite number has more than one digit, then welcome to the 2017/2018, XVs season! And it was all-on, all-in last evening down the Kettle at Infinity as Glendale Rugby’s 40+ top echelon players got after the pill in a sparkling pre-season Possibles v Probables match.  

A lively event, well-managed by one of the country’s finest referee corps, the Reds v Blues fixture at times featured breaks through wide-open gaps made by swift recycles against spread, rear-legged defenses and brightly-contested breakdowns.  The highlight reel must display, one should think, Glendale talisman Mose Timoteo’s eight-meter dead leg, one step through and around a trio of Blues defenders for five.
Timoteo sets the scrum as Summers minds the bind with Weaver (near) and Nelson (far) 
Plenty of hard work at breakdown and a good bit of deft offloading made the competition a delight to observe for the solid complement of rugby aficionados in attendance as the last rays of September 1’s sun settled west.

No lights on in the stadium, however, which was fine as the stars were all out on the pitch.

Match Officials: M Nelson, D Summers, K Weaver  

15s is on for real next weekend up (University of Wyoming, Laramie – Jackalope Rugby Tournament) and down (USAF v Texas Tech) the eastern Rockies region, and at the esteemed Infinity Rugby Complex, as good an array of rugby as one is likely to view will be full on:
·       Men’s D-2: Denver Barbarians v Glendale Merlins, 1pm down the Kettle (dtK) – this’ll be a battle of the pre-season table toppers;
·       Men’s Elite: Glendale Raptors v Ontario Blues, 3pm dtK – as close a North American clubside championship as is on offer, followed by…

·       Women’s Premier League: Glendale Merlins v Chicago North Shore at 5pm – kickoff to women’s exemplar rugby season in what is certain to be a stern test for the home side