GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO)-- Reaching the state semifinals last year in the second season of existence for the Grand Gents' Rugby Club is a testament of success by itself. The story of the Gents' rise from the bottom, though, is more than just winning games.
"We started with 6 kids [three years ago]," recalls head coach Doug Evans. "We merged with the Glenwood [Springs] team, the Aspen Gents. And turned that into having 21 kids from Grand Junction, and 18 kids from the Glenwood area last year."
This year two squads that are separated by more than 85 miles continue to play as one team. The only time they've practiced together as a full team was for a couple weeks prior to the season's start. Now, they just meet a bit early prior to every match.
"It's tough because we can't always run the plays we want because we don't have all the key players here, and they don't have all the key players [in the Glenwood area]," said 3-year member TJ Downey.
"We just work hard down here, and they work hard up there, so when we get together we mesh well," he added.
Practice times weren't the only obstacle left for the Gents to overcome this season. They also played without their own team uniforms until last week's State Semifinals match.
"We were borrowing jerseys from Aspen and then someone stole them," Evans said. "So this year the Defiance Glenwood team let us use their jerseys to make up for it. And then a local doctor at Sports Medicine has two boys on the team so he bought us team jerseys."
Now with their fresh look to match their fierce style of play, the Gents hope to bring home the program's first state crown. "It would shock the front range teams if we brought the title back to Grand Junction," said 2-year member Marsh Casey.
The Grand Gents face the PAC out of the Platte Canyon area for the Division II state title on Wednesday night. The match will be held at Infinity Park in Denver.