Column: Former Aspen Gents’ rugby player on U.S. Olympic team |

Column: Former Aspen Gents’ rugby player on U.S. Olympic team

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen Times Sports Editor Dale Strode
Nick Massaro Jr. / Special to The Aspen Times |

Aspen rugby is going to Rio.

The Gentlemen of Aspen rugby club will be represented on the United States rugby sevens team at the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil.

A former rugby player with the Gents, who came to Aspen specifically to learn the game, was named to the USA Eagles Sevens team this week.

Carlin Isles, acknowledged as “the fastest man in rugby,” will showcase his speed when the U.S. team opens Olympic play Aug. 9 at Deodoro Stadium.

Isles is a former college football standout at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, where he also was a track All-American.

The 5-foot-8-inch, 165-pound speedster was a premier prep athlete at Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio, where he still holds school records in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes as well as the long jump.

Isles was timed at 4.28 seconds for the 40-yard dash as a senior in high school.

He turned to rugby after college football and a taste of the NFL. Isles launched his rugby career with the Gentlemen of Aspen in 2012 and 2013.

He immediately advanced to the U.S. team, and he’s played in some 25 international games since, representing USA Rugby. Isles also plays for the Glasgow Warriors professional rugby club.

Another player with deep football ties also was named to the U.S. team this week. Nate Ebner of the New England Patriots was a rugby star at Ohio State before turning to football; he was subsequently drafted into the NFL.

As the youngest U.S. player even in men’s international sevens (age 17), Ebner received the Patriot’s blessing to pursue the Olympic dream in rugby.

Another top Colorado player was selected to the USA Eagles Sevens — Ben Pinkelman of Colorado State University. At 22, he’s the youngest member of the U.S. team.

Veterans Chris Wyles and Andrew Durutalo are on the U.S. team along with Zack Test, Folau Niua, Danny Barrett, Garrettt Bender and Maka Unuf and Perry Baker.

This will mark an Olympic first for sevens rugby. Full-side (15 players per side) rugby previously has been in the Olympic Games, most recently in 1924.