GLENDALE, Colo. (KDVR) — When the world shut down almost a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sports shut down too.
Programs were cut at universities, the NCAA tournament was cancelled, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed. For the sport of rugby, however, new ideas were at work over at Infinity Park in Glendale.
Usually around this time of year, athletes like Shawn Clark would be on a football field, training for a chance at the NFL. The tight end out of Monmouth University is trying something new this year though, and that’s rugby.
“I think with just this whole year and with limited opportunities, this kind of came up and it’s just another opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself,” said Clark, a New York native.
Out at Infinity Park, you’ll find guys with similar stories to Clark’s.
“Basically, what we are looking to do is to take our top-level athletes that are already through university programs who may have had the opportunity to play professional sports in the NFL, the CFL, the XFL, or in basketball,” said Mark Bullock, director of rugby. “But they didn’t make that cut.”
The RugbyTown Crossover Academy builds on these athletes’ athletic abilities.
“We have these young athletes who are at the top of their athletic career, and they have nowhere to go,” said Bullock. “So, what we are doing is we are inviting them to crossover to rugby, and our goal is to up-skill them so they can ultimately play rugby. They will represent our local team, but what we are always interested in doing is giving players an opportunity to play at the highest level.”
The highest level is the U.S. National Team, and when you mix in guys who have already been a part of a team before, great things are bound to happen for teams like the Colorado XOs.
“We demonstrate something, and it doesn’t look so good the first day, but when we come back the second day, it’s totally night and day in how much they improve,” said Bullock. “And that is because of their dedication and their desire to do well.”
Actual games are on the horizon for the Colorado XOs, hopefully sooner rather than later.