Mt. Sopris Regulators qualify for state |

Mt. Sopris Regulators qualify for state

Jim Noelker photoThe Mt. Sopris Regulators, here carrying the ball vs. Douglas County, will play in the state tourney this weekend.

The Mt. Sopris Regulators are making waves in Colorado high school rugby.

The Regulators, Carbondale-based area rugby players, shocked the state rugby world last weekend with a pair of key victories that qualified the local ruggers for the State Tournament.

“These kids have worked very hard in practice. They’ve done a great job learning the game,” coach Tory Jensen said of the Regulators, who include several players from the Roaring Fork High School football team (also coached by Jensen).

“We messed up their whole state tournament,” Jensen said of the Mt. Sopris Regulators qualifying for the final eight of Colorado high school rugby – in the club’s first year of operation.

“We were going down to Denver to surprise somebody … and we did,” Jensen said of the weekend that netted two key wins for the Regulators – their first two wins in history.

After a group of Roaring Fork High School students approached Jensen about starting a high school rugby club, the Regulators made their debut this spring. In two regular-season games, the Mt. Sopris Regulators lost at home to Douglas County (Castle Rock) and then lost on the road at Highland Ranch (suburban Denver).

But last weekend, the Regulators took on Bear Creek from the Denver area.

And the local rugby boys won 19-14.

Tries were scored by Daven Crowley, James Leonard and Kaid Harris.

Harris added the conversion kick following two of the three tries.

“Bear Creek was a little shocked,” Jensen said.

“We got contributions from everybody. And we had a big goal line stand …. our kids just stood them up,” Jensen said of the time-consuming goal-line stand by the Regulators.

Although they eventually gave up a score, the time consumed helped the local ruggers to the 19-14 win – the Regulators’ first.

“We were winning the scrums and we dominated in the open phases of the game,” Jensen said. He added that the Regulators struggled in the lineout phase of the game due to lack of height and experience.

That win sent the Regulators into another state-qualifying game against North Denver/Fort Lupton.

And in a whistle-filled, scrappy game, the Regulators came from behind for an emotional and historic 10-7 win.

Fort Lupton scored first in the game.

Harris countered for the Regulators with a penalty kick and 3 points.

Then in the second half, Leonard scored a try for the Regulators. Harris added the conversion and the Mt. Sopris Regulators held on for the 10-7 victory.

“We took a bunch of young kids over there and they did a great job,” Jensen said.

“We did get a good draw and that helped a lot,” Jensen said of last weekend’s opponents.

This weekend the draw will not be a help, Jensen said.

The Mt. Sopris Regulators will play the No. 1-ranked prep rugby team in the state (Chaparral High School of Parker) on Saturday in the State Tournament.

The contest is set for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Schaffer Athletic Complex at Kipling and Hampden in Denver.

Jensen also was quick to credit the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby club for assistance with the first-ever high school rugby team in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“They’ve helped us out the whole way … coaching, uniforms, rooms. We couldn’t have done this without the Gentlemen.”

Jensen said veteran Gent Richard Dyer has provided much of the rugby coaching for the high school players.

And they responded to his methods and his messages, Jensen said.

“We’ve got good athletes who pay attention,” Jensen said simply, when asked about his team learning a whole new sport and qualifying for state in the first season.

“Plus we’re all football kids and our kids love to hit,” Jensen said of the football players on the Regulators’ roster.

“We are so aggressive out there and that makes a big difference,” Jensen added.

Currently 17 teams play high school-level rugby in Colorado with the Mt. Sopris Regulators as the newest of the 17 clubs.

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