Glenwood’s Defiance rugby team welcomes its first ‘real coach’
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Last year Bob Herrell sat on a bench on the side of the pitch, watching the Glenwood Defiance men’s rugby club play its matches.
As a rugger/coach for almost 30 years, Herrell was bursting with ideas for Defiance. He saw problems he knew how to fix and, after taking a year-long break from coaching and playing, was eager to get back to rugby.Now he’s back. Herrell is the new head coach for Defiance and instead of just thinking of ideas and game plans, he will be putting them into action. Herrell, who played for and coached the Denver Harlequins for a number of years as well as the Black Ice women’s rugby team in Denver from 2002-04, will be taking over for Graham Askew. Askew could be relocating this summer, but is staying on as an assistant in the meantime.Tim Swanson, Glenwood’s team president and one of the founding members, is excited to have Herrell on board.
“We decided instead of having Graham be the coach and changing it mid-ship, we might as well start off with a fresh new coach,” Swanson said. “We’ve never had a coach. We had Graham last year, but he is sort of a player coach. So we never had a real coach and Bob isn’t playing, so it’s nice to have our first real coach. Graham was still our first coach, but Bob is here just to coach.”Herrell moved to Glenwood two years ago after selling his accounting business in Denver and traveling around for a year. He tried to move away from rugby, but – like most ruggers – he came back to it. “I tried to get rugby out of my system and it wasn’t available. I am still trying to keep my hand in it. My hands are fine – it’s my knees are the problem,” Herrell said with a grin.Swanson and Herrell are both longtime rugby players with mutual friends who clicked immediately after meeting. Swanson, who also helps as an assistant coach, knows that having someone whose only responsibility is to coach can bring a lot more structure, accountability, better game plans and hopefully success to a team.
“We are real happy we found him,” Swanson said.Outside of getting the team in shape, sharpening fundamentals and putting together game plans for the team’s eight games and three tournaments (the first of which is a match Saturday at Vail), Herrell is also heavily recruiting for the team. Glenwood is hoping to have not only a full side of 15 with some substitutes, but also enough players to play an extra B-side half after each match. For that to be possible, Defiance needs more ruggers, and the invitation is open to anyone who is interested. “We will teach anybody who wants to play rugby. You need no experience,” Herrell said. “We are big believers in fitness, and we will get you fit.”Practices are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at Glenwood Park from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Players of all experience levels, including none, are welcome to attend.
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