Adopt-a-rugger: Gentlemen of Aspen need host families to house summer rugby players | AspenTimes.com

Adopt-a-rugger: Gentlemen of Aspen need host families to house summer rugby players

HELP A RUGGER

Families and individuals that can help with a room during the summer for a visiting member of the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club are urged to contact Bo Buck at 970-618-9938 or bobuck59@gmail.com.

The Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club has started an adopt-a-rugger initiative.

The club has found it increasingly difficult to find short-term rental housing for players who come from outside the Roaring Fork Valley to play with the team during summers. Club officials are appealing to Aspen-area host families to consider providing or renting out a room to a rugby player for the summer months, according to Bo Buck, a former player and current member of the club's board of directors.

He said it's kind of like hosting a foreign exchange student but the commitment is just a few months rather than the entire school year. Providing a room can serve as a cultural exchange. There were players from Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Paraguay last summer, as well as college students from several U.S. states.

"We have done pretty well on getting the guys work but finding lodging has been very challenging," Buck said.

“It’s not that we don’t want to help the kids, but we don’t have a lot of money.” — Bo Buck

"Geezers" like him had a much easier time finding employment and a place to stay when they joined the Gentlemen of Aspen decades ago, he said. Now it's tough to find short-term rentals in the upper valley, and when they can be found, it requires a four- to five-month commitment. That's longer than many of the visiting rugby players can stay. They typically arrive in mid-May or June and depart in mid-August if they have to return to school or after Ruggerfest in September.

Buck said the housing shortage, almost always a part of life in the Roaring Fork Valley, became worse starting in about 2010. Housing officials with Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority and Aspen Skiing Co. have noted that a lot of free-market affordable housing are now being rented for short-term through Airbnb and other online services.

The club paid out more than $13,000 in rental assistance last summer and fall, though it got about $5,000 back. Meanwhile, it's other expenses keep rising, such as the cost of hosting the annual Ruggerfest tournament in September. Finding host families would ease the club's financial burden.

"It's not that we don't want to help the kids, but we don't have a lot of money," Buck said.

The rugby club has commitments from 18 players from out of the valley who will need housing for next summer.

"If we could get 10 to 12 (host families), that would be amazing," he said.

Buck said he always sees it as an opportunity to build the relationship between the community and the club and its players.

scondon@aspentimes.com