Glendale Merlins Home Opener
GLENDALE – A full slate of rugby will be on display at Infinity Park this Saturday as Glendale Rugby unites under the new Glendale Merlins brand.
“The Merlins are a great brand for the club and one the players are very much behind,” said Glendale Merlins coach David Williams. “The players, staff and myself are very competitive and we are certainly not here to make up the numbers. Glendale has a history of winning and one we want to keep going and uphold. We go out and play the best teams in the country to continually improve ourselves and will continue that way of thinking.”
The action will kick off at 1 p.m. as the Merlins Men D2 team faces off with local rivals Denver Barbarians (Barbos), one which Williams says will be “hotly contested”.
Concurrent with that game, the Merlins U20s will host Regis University on the Infinity Park Turf Field.
“The club is growing with the addition of the U20 academy program, and it is great to see the club growing and not staying still and always improving,” Williams added.
Following the match with the Barbos, the Glendale men will host the visiting Ontario Arrows with kickoff set for 3 p.m.
The Arrows boast a strong roster comprised primarily of players from the Ontario Blues – a club which recently featured in the Canadian Rugby Championship, losing out 34-31 in the final to the BC Bears.
“They are a physical team as they showed when we traveled up to Burlington, Ont. to play them and great to have them come down to Colorado as our first game of the season,” Williams said of Ontario.
Glendale will also field a formidable team, featuring several returning players who previously played under the Glendale Raptors badge, including several from the USA Eagles talent pool.
“We have numerous Eagles in the squad, as well as A team players and All-American players,” Williams explained. “We have a couple of players back from injury and added to our front row numbers in the off-season to bolster the squad and very much look forward to those guys performing. Kelepi Fifita, Ben Landry, Will Magie, Bryce Campbell, and Luke White are all players to look out for.”
Following the men’s action, the Glendale Merlins Women’s Premier League (WPL) team will host Chicago North Shore at 5 p.m.
Having earned a 27-26 win on the road in the sweltering California heat against Berkeley last weekend, the Glendale women are eager to be back home this weekend.
“We got the first game jitters out and everyone got a nice wakeup call last week,” said Merlins captain Sarah Chobot. “This is the WPL and we can’t take our foot of the gas pedal for anything or we will let teams back in.”
Playing its first season in the WPL, North Shore presents an unfamiliar challenge to the Merlins women, but Chobot stressed that this weekend’s opponents are rife with quality. It will make this game and the Merlins execution all the more important.
Said Chobot, “We want to raise the performance bar this weekend, with the way the WPL is structured every game is like a playoff game; wins and bonus points are so valuable!”
It will all make for an action-packed rugby Saturday at Infinity Park.
“All the players and staff are looking forward to these games to kick off the season, the entire schedule and competing for a trophy,” said Williams.