U.S. Old Boys Buck up, beat All Blacks | AspenTimes.com

U.S. Old Boys Buck up, beat All Blacks

What do Bo Buck, Dark and Stormy’s, All Blacks, Springboks, rugby, and Bermuda have in common?

Last month in the 2003 World Rugby Classic, Aspen’s Bo Buck and his teammates on the U.S. Old Boys rugby side descended on Bermuda, consumed copious amounts of Dark and Stormy’s, and beat the New Zealand Classic All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks for the first time in history.

“It’s all about Dark and Stormy’s,” Buck said. “We might have had one or two.”

At 6-foot-8, 270 pounds, it’s safe to say Buck could handle more than one or two. And, perhaps, the infamous rum and ginger beer concoction was the secret to the American’s success, as they reached the finals for the first time since 1989.

The U.S. got off to an astonishing start in the tournament, which drew nine over-35 sides from around the world, shocking the All Blacks 15-5 in the opening round.

“It was awesome to say the least,” Buck said. “There is really no American team that has ever beaten a New Zealand side.

“It was just totally unexpected, not only by the crowd but the All Blacks. We attacked at every opportunity, we just attacked them whenever we could. They were really not ready for it.”

And nobody was ready for what happened next, as the U.S. beat South Africa 23-12 to earn a trip to the finals against France.

“To my knowledge, no American side has beat [South Africa],” said Buck, a longtime player with the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club.

The U.S. ” which hadn’t advanced to the finals of the Classic in 14 years ” was not slated to fare very well against the French.

“They set us off as 50-point underdogs,” Buck said.

Instead, the Americans lost by the margin of a try-and-conversion, 13-6.

“They’re a great side, very fast, very fit,” Buck said about the French. “They put on a really good, active offense.”

But the loss in the finals didn’t damper the team’s spirit, Buck said, considering they’d already knocked off New Zealand and South Africa.

“It’s certainly a partying experience,” he said.

In addition to the U.S., New Zealand and South Africa, the tournament attracted national sides from Australia, Argentina, Canada, and Bermuda, and the mixed sides of Portugal/Spain and the Classic Lions (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

Buck, like many American-born rugby players, played football in college (he also played ice hockey and competed in track and field). He didn’t step foot on a rugby field until 1982, the year he moved to Aspen from the East Coast. He said the camaraderie and respect for opposing teams in rugby is completely different than what he experienced playing football.

“In American football, you go and play [other teams] and hate them for the rest of your life,” he joked. “In rugby, you play your heart out against someone, kill them and punch them, and then you go hang out with them after the game.”

In Bermuda last month, Buck said he hung out with guys he played against in 1996, his first of four years in the Classic.

Buck played with the Gents in Aspen for four years before moving to Boston in 1986, where he was a member of the Beacon Hill Rugby Club. When his son was born in 1991, Buck hung up his cleats, but not for long. When he and his family moved back to Aspen in 1996, Buck couldn’t resist the urge to re-join the Gents. He did so just in time, becoming an integral member of the Aspen team that won a record six consecutive USA Rugby U.S. National Championships (1997-2002).

Now 43, Buck lives with his wife and two children in Basalt. In addition to being a broker for Home Buyers Mortgage in Carbondale, he and his wife own a preventative health-care company.

While he’s considered retiring, he hasn’t made any final decisions. If he were to do so soon, however, he would join a host of players from the Gents’ championship dynasty who have hung it up in the past year. The loss of those veterans was felt at this year’s Ruggerfest, as the Gents failed to win for the first time in seven years.

“It’s definitely a rebuilding team,” Buck said about the Gents current side. “There’s really a changing of the guard.

“You’re looking at a situation where there’s a [loss] of a core group of players that had been playing together a long time ” they knew how to play together,” he said. “That’s what we had in Aspen for so long, why we won six national championships in a row.”

But Buck thinks it’s only a matter of time before the Gents’ re-emergence.

“[This side’s] not doing too shabby, they’re just more inexperienced playing with each other,” he said. “They’ve yet to come together as a unit, but they’re a tremendous group of players ” there’s a lot of exciting rugby to be played.”

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