Red hot, rockin’ Fourth rugby
July 3, 2007
It just wouldn’t be the Fourth of July in Park City without rugby. Once again, the team will head to the pitch for another raucous afternoon at City Park.
Only this time, everyone looks very familiar. With a midweek holiday, the Park City Haggis Rugby Football Club had some difficulty attracting out-of-state opponents. Of course, canceling the game was out of the question, and so the team decided to split in half with the competitive side playing as the Haggis and the social side of the club playing as the Muckers. It seemed to make sense, said Park City team representative Robert Lopez, since the two teams, the Park City Muckers and the Salt Lake Haggis combined two years ago to form an elite Division I squad.
The match will go on as planned on July 4 with a women’s rugby game at 10 a.m., followed by an "Old Boys" game at 11 a.m. and the traditional at 12:30 p.m. game following the parade featuring Park City competitive vs. Park City social. And the rugby doesn’t end there. Following the game, there will be trials for the Utah 7s Series to qualify for the national tournament at 2 p.m. The Fourth of July games will feature the usual grilling and merrymaking, with burgers and beverages available for purchase throughout the afternoon.
Making things work has been a running theme for Park City after being locked out of Division I competition this year. The team was in the parking lot packed up to go to a game in Aspen in early spring, when they received a call from USA Rugby saying that the No-Cal and So-Cal leagues of California, whom the Muckers played with in 2006, decided that they didn’t want Park City to be a associated with them this year.
"They said they didn’t like our schedule," Lopez said.
The California teams stated that Park City’s regional competition in Colorado and Idaho was not difficult enough. Lopez suspects that actually, they didn’t want Park City to come in and upset their league.
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"This year, they are having us dot our "i’s" and cross our "t’s," Lopez said. "This year, they were a bit nervous, which is great. It says a lot about Utah."
Last year, the Park City team joined the California league relatively undetected and quickly rose to a top five ranking in the country and finished sixth in league play.
"It’s been tough," Lopez said. "There is so much potential here."
It was an even harder pill to swallow when the Hayward Griffins took the Division I championship. Park City beat the California team twice in 2006.
"We felt really confident this year," Lopez said. "But to no avail."
Undaunted, the team has continued to play in tournaments around the Intermountain West and keeps practicing in preparation for next year. The California league has decided they will allow Park City to join next year. Last week, Park City won the Missoula Maggotfest Tournament and brought the trophy back to Park City to be displayed at the No Name Saloon on Main Street. The squad is preparing to head to the Ski Town Classic in Steamboat Springs, Colo., July 28-29. The team is still looking for sponsors to make the trip and is focused on dominating the tournament. Lopez says that after the disappointments of this year, the team is eyeing the trophy.
"That’s what we’re really planning on," Lopez said. "Park City’s never won it."
The have also been playing in the Utah 7s Series all summer long. In August, Park City will host the Pacific Coast All-Star sevens at Quinn’s Junction. In September, they will host a rugby challenge cup with eight men’s teams, four college teams and four high school teams.
For more information on the Park City team and a complete schedule, visit http://www.haggisrugby.com.