Rugby: Positive outlook for Defiance
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Sean McDermott was all smiles right before the final preseason practice for the Defiance Rugby Football Club on Thursday.
He had a good reason to be smiling, too. After all, the veteran front-liner for the Glenwood Springs rugby team has been on teams where, headed into the season opener, it wasn’t clear if Defiance would have enough players to field a full team.
This year, that won’t be a problem.
“I’m seeing a lot of potential this season,” McDermott said. “With the amount of people we have coming in, I think the season we have coming is looking pretty strong.
All total, close to 20 players have come out and practiced for Defiance as it prepares for its season opener against Steamboat Springs, which takes place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Glenwood Park. Of those, nine of those players have experience from previous seasons.
That simple math shows that more than half of the players on this year’s roster are brand new with little to no playing experience behind them. That’s actually a good thing, co-captain Nick Garay said, adding that the new blood on the team is a positive step toward where the team, as a whole, wants to go.
“Our goal this year is to simply have fun,” said Garay, who took a break from playing last year before returning this season. “We want all of these guys to learn this year and, so long as we have fun, that will keep people coming back next season. That’s the kind of thing we need.”
Defiance, which typically had been a slow-moving, ball-control team in the past, previously had a need for speed because of that identity. That’s going to change this year, as speed will likely be Defiance’s biggest asset.
“We have six or seven guys who can really move with the ball,” said Rich McDilda, a former Defiance player who is in his first season of being the team’s full-time coach. “These guys play very aggressive, and that’s what is going to make us successful.”
Success is a relative term for Defiance, which, aside from a victory by forfeit against Breckenridge, didn’t win a game last season.
There’s also the learning curve aspect of the game for the team’s newcomers, who will look to veterans like McDermott, Garay, Doug Richardson, Jamie Rico, Tony Schollaert and Erik Zuniga for guidance.
Among those newcomers is Gilbert Hernandez, whose overall speed could make an immediate impact with the team. Also joining the team while adding team speed will be Jesus Martinez, Mike Mills, Ted Hernandez, Jeremiah Moreno and Lupito Sanchez.
“Basically, my goal for us is to compete in every game we play this year,” McDilda said. “If we can do that, it’ll do nothing but positive things for us.”
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