In 1987, Arvada West HS won the second Colorado HS Rugby State Championship. From 1992-1995, Pomona HS represented the Arvada community well in the game. On Saturday, September 24th, after a 16 year absence, rugby was reintroduced to Arvada by Tigers Rugby Football Club. In light of the impressive showing of over 80 fans in the bleachers at North Arvada Middle Schools Football Stadium, the real highlight could have simply been the return of competitive rugby to the City of Arvada. In their third year as an Alumni squad, the Tigers played the first of two scheduled fall Home rugby matches at North Arvada Middle School. The Tigers return on October 15th to play the Casper Cannibals. Next week 10/2, the Tigers face the Ft. Carson Anarchists in Colorado Springs.
Tigers Alumni were in tune for their Division III debut in USA Rugbys Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union. Arvada was treated to a rousing rendition of our national anthem sung by the two teams under clear blue skies to start the day. Player/Coach Mike OBrian led his club, making 8 of 12 conversion kicks, a penalty kick, a drop goal, and scoring the first ever Division III try in a league match for a total of 27 points in the Tigers’ 82-0 victory over the Colorado Rush. Peter Loving then went off for four tries on kickoffs and in loose play to pad the win for the Tigers. Colorado Rush and Tigers Rugby nominated Peter Loving as Man of the Match. The Tigers are an experienced team, consisting of several graduates of their HS squad, and those drawn by the growing interest in the game of rugby. Bobby Kemp, was reunited with Steve Blevins on a rugby pitch. The two had played for Tigers Rugby HS side when they attended Broomfield HS. Inside Center, Matt Gear played well, crashing from the center positions and aggressively supporting the rucks.
The forwards battle was a good one, though the Tigers demonstrated their aptitude for multiple phase rugby for the first 20 minutes. Scrums were well managed by scrum captain Neil Quinlivan, with support from Mike Gutierrez. The hard working flankers and locks helped sprint the Tigers to a 21-0 lead, deploying rapidly to the breakdown and by creating long driving mauls. The Colorado Rush played wisely, stepping over rucks and executing effective forward movement, ball control and penalty takes. Handily, the Tigers had a host of subs available at halftime for the old and injured forwards, after mounting a 50-0 lead. Dylan Lewis, came in for Chris Harms and worked hard at lock and prop for the residual 40 minutes. Bobby Stomski returned to the Tigers, and Ed Madigan was on the mark as hooker in the second half. The Rush toughened up and controlled the scrum for a time before the Tigers picked up the pace again.
Safety is imperative in the rough and tumble game of rugby, and all the burden of control is placed on one individual to enforce Rugby Laws and to mediate the infractions. This league match was officiated by Paul Johnston, representing the Eastern Rockies Referee Society. Cheers were offered from all for a job well done.
Eventually the leadership of Eddie Page and Mike O’Brian was skillful in spreading the ball to the wings including Jonathan Castillo, Blevins and “Zulu” Josh Gossman, who scored the last try of the afternoon. Queen City Olde Boy, Ted Ehrmann saw action at flanker, and signed up for more with the Arvada and Broomfield Tigers. Multiple tries were scored by Peter Loving, Steven Blevins, Bobby Kemp. Matt Gear and Nick Hannigan in the Tigers victory. Mike O’Brian attempted two drop goals, the first one good from 25 yards. The Rush blocked his second attempt from 40 yards out. O’Brian, playing today with his brother, Matt and his father (me), was also joined by Jake Gossman (fresh off the HS side), his brother, Josh, and his father as well, Jeff Gossman.
After the match, in accordance with rugby tradition, the two clubs met up in Old Town Arvada at Cheapskates Action Sports Bar (7501 Grandview Ave.) The house was packed, standing room only, as players and supporters from both teams swapped tall tales of their on field exploits over food, pitchers of beer, and the traditional post-match “boat races”. The Rush challenged the locals but it was the Tigers’ day in all respects, as Rick Potter made the Tigers proud, winning the Jumbo -sized Jenga Championship. Both clubs thank the staff of Cheapskates for their hospitality, and look forward to future visits, hosting teams after Tigers home matches.
More pictures are available through Travis Prior at www.prior-t.smugmug.com .
Tigers practice location: North Arvada Middle School – 72nd Avenue & Pierce Street in Arvada on Thursdays at 5:45 pm through October.
Call Mike O’Brian at (303) 506-8109 to join the fun of rugby throughout the year with Tigers RFC.
Fall Tigers Rugby Alumni Matches: August 27th @ Denver Wolverines RFC (53-10 Win) September 10th Boulder RFC @ Glendale (7-26 Loss) September 24th vs. Colorado Rush RFC (82-0 Win) October 2nd @ Anarchist RFC (Fort Carson) October 15th Casper Cannibals RFC at North Arvada Middle School