Williams named to all-state rugby team | AspenTimes.com

Williams named to all-state rugby team

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

A member of the Junior Gents rugby club will represent Colorado in a regional under-19 tournament in Denver next weekend.

Matt Williams, who helped the Junior Gents win the Colorado Division 2 state rugby title this spring, was selected for the Colorado U19 Rugby Team.

Williams, 17, will be a senior at Basalt High School next fall.

Williams was one of two 17-year-olds picked for the Colorado U19 squad that will play Southern California and Texas in a round-robin tournament Saturday and Sunday.

“He made a decision to put some additional personal time (into rugby),” said Gary Williams, the coach of the Junior Gents and Matt’s father. “It’s been him to get where he’s at.”

Gary Williams said Matt’s improvement was driven by Crossfit workouts in the mornings before school.

“That extra work has given him the platform to be a better, stronger player,” said Williams, himself a rugby lifer who was the starting scrum half for the Wales national team. He eventually served as the head coach of the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby club when the Gents won their first national club championship and first Rugby Super League championship.

Those Aspen rugby teams were led by captain and longtime U.S. Eagle standout Mark Williams, Gary’s brother and Matt’s father. Mark Williams remains one of the most decorated rugby players in the history of the U.S. Eagles, the national rugby team.

“Matt’s had a lot of rugby in this household,” Gary Williams said. “Mark has spent a lot of time with him.”

Matt Williams will play scrum half for the all-Colorado side this weekend, the same position his father played at an international/World Cup level.

“Over the years, I’ve been teaching him to play what I know,” said Gary Williams.

And with Matt measuring at 5-11, 180 pounds, that sets him apart, Williams said.

“That’s big for a scrum half. But that’s the difference with Matt,” he said.

Matt Williams’ play with the Junior Gents and his selection to the all-Colorado U19 team has generated increased interest from colleges.

The quarterback on the Basalt High School football team, Matt Williams has been contacted by Harvard about playing football and rugby.

As a 3.9 honor student, he’s also had interest from Dartmouth, where another former Gentlemen of Aspen standout player (Brian Hightower) has been influential in the rugby program.

Williams also has been contacted by the service academies and their rugby programs.

Matt Williams and his Junior Gents teammates will have a chance to play in front of the home fans on Saturday, June 22, when they host the Northside Vikings from Denver at Rio Grande Field. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. for the game against a top Division 1 side.

“That will be great for the Junior Gents to play at home,” Gary Williams said.