Junior Gents prep for new rugby season | AspenTimes.com

Junior Gents prep for new rugby season

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Junior Gents, in action here in the state playoffs last season, are gearing up for the new season. Interested players are invited to join the high school division of the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby club.

The Junior Gents are looking for a few good Gentlemen.

The Juniors, the high school rugby division of the Gentlemen of Aspen, are gearing up for the new rugby season.

Practices are already under way for the first games, set for late February.

"We've been training regularly," said Cameron McIntyre, the head coach of the Gentlemen of Aspen senior team as well as the Junior Gents. "We wanted to get the word out … for anyone interested in seeing what rugby is like."

McIntyre said the Junior Gents are part of the Colorado section of Rugby USA. The team includes players from Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Players must be under 19 and must meet standard high school eligibility requirements, including grade minimums.

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"From last year, we've got a dozen players coming back," McIntyre said. "That helps. We have … kids with experience."

He said some have been in the Junior Gents program for four years.

The returning players are able to help new players learn the game on the field, he said.

"The point is, we always want to include anyone with an interest in it."

He said the rugby team has been a carryover for high school football players, particularly those who've played their last football.

Several current football players, wrestlers and basketball players in the valley play on the Junior Gents, using the experience as cross training, he said.

Colorado high school rugby will expand yet again this year, McIntyre said.

There will be 26 prep rugby teams across the state for 2016, with Summit County adding a team.

Grand Junction and Aspen have fielded high school rugby teams for a decade.

In fact, the two high school clubs played an exhibition match during the 2015 Aspen Ruggerfest in front of a huge crowd.

"I was very pleased to see the level of commitment," McIntyre said of last week's statewide high school rugby meeting.

He said the state focus on coaching, organization and development has yielded big results.

Two former players with the Junior Gents are currently playing college rugby, on scholarship.

Matt Williams, the ex-Junior Gent and former all-conference football player at Basalt, is playing college rugby at UCLA — one of the elite programs in the country.

More than 250 colleges have rugby teams or clubs, McIntyre said.

Thirty offer scholarships at the Div. I-equivalent schools, like UCLA, Cal and Penn State.

McIntyre said the team is open to anyone in high school with an interest or a curiosity about rugby.

Practices are held on weekends at Willits Field in Basalt or at other locations, including indoors, as the field conditions and weather permit.

The Junior Gents often run indoor drills at the area high school and middle school gyms.

For more, contact Cameron McIntyre at camaroonmci11@gmail.com.

dstrode@aspentimes.com