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Mines Engineers Solid Start in Rocky Mountain

College Men

Mines Engineers Solid Start in Rocky Mountain

Somewhere down there they played a rugby game. Long-range shot of the fields where Mines defeated the Air Force Development XV.

With five new teams in the Rocky Mountain DII Men’s league, you wonder if the balance of power might shift.

And especially with Air Force putting their development side in there, certainly there’s a risk of a changing of the guard. Well, the Colorado School of Mines put that thought to bed fairly quickly, opening the season with an emphatic 41-17 defeat of the USAFA B side. The defending champion Orediggers were handed a tough job on week one, and took care of business.

“It was great to have such a physical encounter early on in the season against Air Force,” said Mines Coach Alex Eves. “Denny Meredith and the coaches at the Academy run a great program. Air Force was very physical across the board; they played clean hard rugby and didn't shy away from contact in the slightest. We are very fortunate to have them be part of the newly expanded ranks of the conference. Playing at Air Force is an experience by itself and they are just a class act.”

The Orediggers came away with the road win despite only having five practices under their tool belts. Eves said there’s much work to do and in addition they started the season without eight starters from last year - graduation and injury depleting their ranks.

Mines will be without Konstantin Rehbein all season as he is injured, and the team will miss his intelligent play and high work rate. They are hoping, eventually, to get back injured Zach Melphy (younger brother of Life University All American Cody). Melphy the young is a smart player and an excellent kicker. Despite being sidelined, both Melphy and Rehbein have been working with the squad at practices and game days, helping them get ready.

“Some of our new players have high school rugby experience,” said Eves, who had two freshmen on the A side that faced the Zoomies. “The new players just need game time to adjust to the pace and physicality of college rugby. Overall, I'm very encouraged by their potential to add to the overall team both now and in the future.”

Still the vast majority of the new players at Mines are brand new to rugby, so it’s the familiar story of a coach trying to get his team up to championship level while also teaching the game from the ground up.

“”That brand new group needs more developmental game time, which can be hard to come by in DII,” said Eves. “Air Force gave us a great B-side match versus their C side. I would encourage more DIA teams to follow Air Force in entering their B sides into D2 competition. …The increased level of competition is a win-win for everyone. The brand new Mines players are very athletic and showed they were physical against Air Force too, they just need more time.”

Among the returners who players well, senior Connor Parsons was excellent at second row - his off-season fitness regimen is paying off already. Senior Caleb Lopez is a real threat with ball in hand, no matter which backline position he plays. He runs with power and speed, and is fun to watch. 

Alex Dion is very physical in attack and defense and is a fierce competitor. A crossover from the Mines football team last fall, he is learning the game (he did play rugby in high school), and fitting in better each other.

Mines, of course, was not the only team to start league play with a win. Western State defeated Montana State, and Colorado Mesa got a forfeit win over Metro State

Next up for Mines is University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, with Mesa hosting Colorado College, and Metro State visiting Air Force. 

“UCCS is coached by Riel du Tout who I respect very much as a rugby coach,” said Eves. “We haven’t played UCCS for two years, since both teams were in NSCRO, but we know they will be well coached and likely physical, especially in the forwards. UCCS will be a tough opponent and we'll certainly have our work cut out for us.“