Grand Gents making their presence felt on rugby field

Eli Harrison, right, and the Grand Gents have made their mark on the club high school rugby scene, advancing to the final four of the Colorado High School State Championship.

They may be new to the rugby scene, but that hasn’t kept them from making noise.

The Grand Gents, a club rugby team with a combination of players from District 51 schools and Carbondale, Aspen and Glenwood Springs, have made it to the final four of the Division II Rugby Colorado High School State Championship.

“We felt confident before the season that with the numbers we had that we’d be able to go as far as we’ve come,” Grand Gents coach Doug Evans said. “We’ve played nine games together so we are jelled.”

The Grand Gents (6-2-1) play PAC (Platte Canyon) today at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver at 11:30 a.m.

The Division II playoffs are seeded with the top eight teams at the end of the regular season. The seventh-seeded Grand Gents upset second-seeded Ridge View Academy 13-12 last Saturday to advance to the final four.

Glenwood Springs sophomore Wiehan Pretorius had a game-winning kick.

“(Ridge View) was already talking about the team they’d be playing next week,” Evans said. “But we got out there and really played well.”

One reason for the team’s success is the increase in numbers.

This is the second year of the rugby team in District 51, and numbers have grown from five players last year to 14 this season. In addition, there are more than 10 players from the Glenwood area to give the Grand Gents some depth.

“It was a matter of everyone learning to play together,” Evans said. “It’s taken a little bit, but we are starting to play as a good team.” A key to the Grand Gents’ success has been first-year players picking up the sport smoothly.

“A couple friends asked me to come out, and they said ‘if you like to hit, come out and play,’ ” said Grand Junction senior Jace Casey, one of the first-year-players. “That’s what I did.”

Casey said he’s really enjoyed the camaraderie on the team.

“We get along great as a team,” Casey said. “For us, it’s about getting out there and having fun.”

If the Grand Gents win today, they play either top-seeded Cherry Creek or fourth-seeded Littleton on Wednesday in Denver.


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