Game brings a punch to the head and a tear in the eye


By Lon Matejczyk


Colorado Springs Business Journal, June 6, 2008



The punch to the head made a resounding “thonk.” The blatant punch was directly in front of the most crowded section in the stands and in front of the touch judge. The two players got into a wrestling match coming out of a maul that had collapsed to a ruck.

What the blazes is Matejczyk writing about this week?

I spent the better part of last weekend at Glendale Colorado’s Infinity Park, home to the Raptors rugby club. I gave tours to people from the Springs and took my kids for a brilliant time of watching the best sport in the world.

Rugby started American football and many say American basketball. It is rich in tradition and has a camaraderie element like no other sport. Last weekend, every time I turned around there was someone I knew from days gone by.

There are rugby players around us right here in our community that you probably don’t know about. I am outing them. Scott Hente, City Council; Scott Gray, Cornerstone Commercial Realty; Ron Chernak, First Business Brokers; Terry Storm, Pikes Peak Association of Realtors; Jay Patel, local activist; Vic Tise, Scientific Research Corp.; Amy Rusert, Zeal Communications; Wayne Timura, Next Level; and CSBJ columnist John Hazlehurst. These are just some the people who have come forward and admitted it.

Inevitable on these trips to Infinity Park there is someone watching the game near me that wants to know more, and I willingly explain the sport, from its beginning as the game played at Rugby school in England to its present status — played in more than 120 countries and the world’s No. 2 played sport after soccer. In the United States, there are 75,000 members of USA Rugby, which is based in Boulder. There are about150,000 players nationwide.

It is said that rugby is a ruffians game played by gentlemen and soccer is a gentlemen’s game played by ruffians. Look at the soccer riots, for instance. Rugby has a reputation for the “third half,” where the home team puts on an event for the visiting team including dinner in most instances. There are many rugby traditions including century-old songs that have tended to be a tad off-color but can be extremely funny.

Infinity Park is the first municipally owned rugby-only stadium in the United States and will be home to the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Colorado has made its own niche in the Rugby world. In addition to USA Rugby based in Boulder, there is the Aspen Ruggerfest’s reputation as the nation’s most elite tournament. Men’s clubs such as the Denver Barbarians, the Denver Highlanders and the Gentlemen of Aspen have been a part of the Rugby landscape since the 1960s and in the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union since 1967.

Though younger in establishment, the Glendale’s men’s and women’s teams are fast becoming known on the state and national landscape, reports the Raptors Web site. The rugby played last weekend at Infinity park was outstanding. The conference center, rugby pub and work out facility are almost complete. ESPN and Fox Sports will be airing last weekend’s games. You can find out more at

As I was watching a game, a young boy about 8 years old came up to me and asked, “Are you a rugby player?” I responded with “Kind of, I don’t play much anymore.” This young boy then asked, “Can I have your autograph?” A tear came to my eye as I signed his program, the world’s best sport and something I am very passionate about has finally come of age in the United States. It has only taken 185 years. Have I mentioned we need a facility like Infinity Park here in the Springs? It would not be just a rugby stadium but a facility that could be used to benefit all kinds of sports and people. It would help build community.

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