A new dynamic.
Late summer is generally the transition time in the rugby world from seven-a-side rugby to the start of fifteens season. In addition, we have recently concluded the return of rugby to the Olympic Games, thus ushering a new dynamic to the development of rugby domestically. Not unlike the change from leather rugby balls to synthetic rugby balls, the game is undergoing significant changes.
There was great anticipation for Olympic rugby and the product did not disappoint and we observed some very beautifully played matches. From a USA perspective, we may have been disappointed with our national team finish, but we in Glendale did get to observe local Raptor Julian Potter play a significant role as a member of the USA team. In addition, local Colorado State University, Cherry Creek High School and Denver Barbarian product Ben Pinkleman played a significant role for the USA men. Our hats are off to both of them for making the Olympic team and representing Colorado with such high standards.
Raptor summer rugby witnessed the women winning two local tournaments, the Denver Sevens and the Glendale Invitational prior to playing in the Plate Finals of the USA Rugby National Tournament. Meanwhile the men won the Championship of Rugby Utah’s USA Qualifier tournament and then played an extremely outstanding set of matches to reach the finals of the Serevi RugbyTown 7s International Tournament. Although we went down in the final to the local Denver team it was a very entertaining match demonstrating the strong rugby played in Colorado. Both teams had to defeat very strong international teams to reach the finals and it is a testament to the strength of rugby played locally.
That local rugby quality comes from programs such as the Glendale Raptors Rugby Academy (GRRA) that promotes and develops youth rugby beginning at age five. The many fine youth programs operated by the GRRA, under the direction of Youth Director Jenna Anderson, assist in the development of future Olympians and national level players. Courses such as the summer high school girls and boys’ camp, summer flag rugby, and the start of fall after school rugby are just some of the many opportunities for youth to begin, and continue to learn the game of rugby. In addition, the fall brings the return of our in school and after school courses at local schools such as University Park and Cory Elementary. These activities are well received by both the parents and staff at the respective schools.
The fall sees the return of play of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) champion Raptors as they start their quest of a Three-Peat championship. The road to three consecutive championships is steep and littered with obstacles but the team is well coached with Kittery Ruiz at the helm and ably staffed by former USA National team players Jamie Burke and Mose Timoteo. As with all Raptor teams, the WPL squad has set high standards for themselves and will push the limits of their collective will to be successful. Most critical is the team will serve as role models for the young players who look up to the standards they set.
The premier men are off until the spring so they will be training in the gym and on their skills while the Division Two and Three teams power up to win their respective leagues in the Rocky Mountain Rugby Union Frontier Division.
The fall truly brings a change in season and the Raptors are ready to set the standard and soar to reach lofty goals.