Shawn Clark at rugby match vs New Orleans RFC
Shawn Clark in Colorado XOs rugby practice (photo by Colton Strickler)

The former Monmouth tight end suited up at lock for the Colorado XOs in what was his first-ever rugby match, and he scored the second try of the match to help the XOs to a 26-10 victory over New Orleans RFC.

“It was probably the best experience I have had in a long time,” Clark said after the victory. “The boys were buzzing and I think just getting to come out and play together in this first match just meant everything to us.”

Clark didn’t know much about rugby before last November. He is one of several players on the XOs’ roster that the coaching staff recruited from The Spring League, a four-team developmental football league that was finishing up a competition down in San Antonio last fall when a COVID outbreak brought it to a premature halt.

An early end to the competition left Clark with some free time, and he jumped on a flight from San Antonio to Denver to observe the final two days of the first-ever RugbyTown Crossover Academy camp. Clark saw an opportunity to learn a new sport and continue to train. Fast forward to March and he’s loving every minute of it.

“I’ll tell you what,” Clark told RugbyFactory after his first match. “This is probably the most fun I’ve had since I was a kid.”

Clark is hard to miss. There is a reason he had a shot with the Indianapolis Colts ahead of the 2020 NFL season. He makes sure his height is listed at 6’8 1/2’’ on the team’s roster. He weighs in at 245 pounds and can run like a gazelle. The first time he touched the ball in the XOs’ first match of the season, he galloped past the New Orleans backline and in for a try.

“It was the first catch and Campbell (Johnstone) did a little skip one there,” Clark remembers about his first try. “He put it up high and I think it was actually going to ‘Flea’ (Jarrell Patterson) and I just kind of caught it and had some space just took it in. It was an unbelievable feeling I’ll tell you that.”

The adrenaline boost that comes with scoring your first try on your first carry in your first rugby match is unfortunately not enough to get you through said match. Clark soon realized that eventually the realities of the match settle in and he had to put his skills and fitness to the test.

“Honestly it felt a little bit slower than practice,” Clark said of the match. “The coaches really have a high-intensity practice and have us going. The work rate and everything was definitely hard. You had to dig down and go into those dark places and just having to dig out was challenging but I think we did really well.” 

Shawn Clark in Colorado XOs rugby practice
Shawn Clark in Colorado XOs rugby practice (photo by Justin Purdy)

Clark may have started playing as a way to keep in shape, but he’s well on his way towards a future in rugby if he’s not careful. Based on his experience in his first match, I’d say he’s perfectly fine with that.

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