Defiance recruits international skill
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. The Glenwood Defiance Rugby Club’s roster looks a little different this year.While the majority is made up of locals, there are a few newcomers who have traveled from other continents to play on the team.There are two rugby players from Kenya (Teddy Omondi and Caesar Omdula), one from Wales (Morgan Harris) and one from New Zealand (James Robertson). All four are experienced backline players who have played all over the world. Glenwood, one of five teams in the Mountain Rugby League, is also one of the newest. Defiance started in 1993 and has often had a hard time competing with teams like seven-time national champion Aspen or 2006 Mountain League Champion Vail because it hasn’t had enough experienced players. Or enough players at all, for that matter.That’s not the case any more. Now Glenwood has international recruits, just like Vail and Aspen have had for years.
“I wanted to stay local, but there’s just not enough guys,” said one of Glenwood’s founders, Tim Swanson. “We needed to recruit.”Glenwood has a formidable backline now, one that helped Defiance take down Aspen 37-20 on Saturday for Glenwood’s first win over the Gents ever.The international players found Defiance when Glenwood player and director of recruiting, Gregg McCorkle, posted a wanted ad on http://www.rugbyrugby.com to encourage players to come to Glenwood and join the team. And it worked.”I found it on the Internet, and I thought I would just come out for the summer and see what’s going on,” Harris said. “My season is finished back home. It doesn’t start until September, so I came here.”Harris played flyhalf in Saturday’s win over Aspen, and has played rugby since he was 7 years old.
“We are brought up on it back home,” Harris said. “It’s just like football or baseball here. I have been doing it forever.”Omondi has played rugby for seven years and even played for Kenya’s national team. Omdula has also played for seven years and played for Kenya’s U19 national team. He played in England most recently, while Omondi played in France before both joined Defiance this summer.The duo have played together for two years and have a connection on the field. While their travels sometimes separate them, they end up playing on the same team from time to time – just like this summer.”Whenever we go back home, we play together,” Omdula said.Robertson has also been doing his fair share of traveling to play rugby.”I have sorta been playing in different places all over the world – Japan, England, and ended up here,” Robertson said on Saturday. “I just thought I would come to Colorado and play some rugby. It’s obviously been a good day for us.”
While the foursome, along with Defiance’s local backs, was thrown together only a few weeks before the season started, they play like they have been on the pitch together for years.”We haven’t had much of a backline the past two years, and now we have a stellar backline,” said Keith Jones, a Defiance veteran wing.All four international players said they are enjoying Glenwood and have already bonded with their teammates.”We have worked hard over the last couple of weeks. The guys were training before I got here, but when I got here, there was a good solid core for the team,” Harris said. “Everyone knows each other, some of them set up the club, it’s like a family. It’s an awesome feeling.”The four are on summer holiday, so they are making the most of their time spent in the valley.”I am just enjoying it. Playing rugby and rafting and stuff, it’s been fun. I love it,” Robertson said. “I have only been here a few weeks and already it’s been fantastic.”
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Glenwood Springs High School’s girls basketball team needed one last win to defend its conference title Saturday afternoon on the road at Battle Mountain.