Jr. Gents play the under card on Saturday
In its first two years of existence, the valley’s only high school rugby team called themselves the Mount Sopris Regulators. Drawing players from Roaring Fork and Basalt high schools, the team joined the growing ranks of Colorado school-boy rugby teams that now number 24.
This season, the team has shed the Regulators name in favor of the Junior Gentlemen.
Catchy, isn’t it?
Outfitted in the legendary (albeit worn) red-and-black jerseys of the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club, the team hopes to lure more players from throughout the valley, like Aspen, Glenwood Springs and CRMS, in order to compete with larger schools.
The Junior Gents have already played, and lost, three games this season against big Class 5A schools from the Front Range. And on Saturday at 1 p.m., the Junior Gents host Bailey. (Depending on the weather, the game will be played either in Aspen or Carbondale. See story above.)
“We’re hoping to turn the corner this weekend,” said coach Tory Jenson, a former Gent himself and also the head coach of the Roaring Fork Rams football team. “We’d love to get a win to get these kids fired up.”
Jenson counts a squad of 20, with BHS and RFHS student athletes represented, though more players have turned up this week, following last Saturday’s home game in Carbondale and under-card match for the (real) Gents’ USA Rugby Super League match.
“The kids have played well for lack of experience,” Jenson said.
Yesterday afternoon, Jenson expected the highest scorer in Gentlemen of Aspen history, Mark Williams, also a 13-year U.S. National Team player and Carbondale resident, to come out to practice at Roaring Fork High to work with the backs.
“The idea was to make it more of a valleywide team, and basically become the junior club of the Gentlemen,” said Jenson, who guided the 2003 football Rams to an 11-1 record and the Class 3A state final four. “The season’s still got another month in it, and if kids want to come from anywhere in the valley, we’d love to have them.”
“From our standpoint as a [football] coaching staff, we feel rugby is a great complement to football. It’s physical, it’s very team-oriented and it’s intelligent, and we feel it’s really helped us as a team.”
Jenson said the team is willing to shift practice sites from Roaring Fork High, or delay the start of practices, to accommodate prospective players who might have to travel.
“Right now, we have a pretty strong talent base, but we’d like to draw more guys out, get more guys exposed to the game, get them acquainted with something that’s maybe not as structured as varsity sports but is one of the most rewarding sports out there,” he said.
“And the cool thing for the kids, is that once we play [Saturday], they’re gonna see an unbelievable game between Aspen and Dallas. So the kids not only get a chance to play, but they’ll get to watch possibly one of the top games in the country this weekend.
“The kids really get fired up about being part of the Aspen tradition.”
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Cory Parker once roamed the halls of Aspen High School as a student, graduating in 2008 as one of the best basketball players in program history. For the past five seasons, since returning home, he’s helped rebuild AHS basketball as an assistant coach alongside Alex Schrempf.