October 19, 2023

Rocky Mountain Rivalry on Friday Night Rugby

October 18 - The University of Denver and Colorado School of Mines renew their Small College rivalry under the lights this Friday. The match will be played at Denver University and kick-off is at 7:00 P.M. EST (5:00 P.M MST). The game will be livestreamed on NCR's YouTube channel.

The University of Denver comes into this match in 5th place in the High Peaks Conference after opening league play with a 19-19 draw against Northern Colorado. The Pioneers played two tough preseason matches against Division I Air Force and Colorado to prepare for the season. 

Newly hired head coach, Joey Malanka, aims to set foundations in the team’s game plan, execution, and culture in his first fall season as the Pioneers head coach. President, captain, and scrumhalf Patrick Soonthornprapuet is one of the leaders helping Malanka establish those foundations. 

Soothornprapuet is looking to graduate in three years with a degree in Biology and pursue medical school after graduation. “No player can look at him and say I got more to do than Pat,” said Malanka. “He is a phenomenal on and off-the-field leader.”

Anthony Rice, graduate student and inside center, was a varsity wrestler at Cleveland State before enrolling at Denver. Second-year flyhalf Anthony Brown was a New England Free Jacks academy player. And the forward pack is relatively new, but No. 8 Colin O’Brien has stepped up and is leading by with his play on the field. 

“The boys don’t need any extra motivation to get up for the Mines game,” said Malanka. “It’s a really prominent, local derby here.”

“For me, DU has always been the archenemy,” said Mines head coach Anthony Ford. “From a coaching perspective, it means a lot.”

Last season, Colorado School of Mines ended their season ranked 12th in Men’s Small College. As they looked to build off the success, the Orediggers scheduled three challenging preseason games against Wayne State, Montana State, and Colorado Mesa, losing all three and taking some injuries.

Nonetheless, the Orediggers are currently 2-0 in the High Peaks after taking care of Colorado College in their first match of the season and narrowly beating New Mexico Tech 34-31 on a last-second penalty kick. They look to continue their success against rival Denver University.

The Orediggers have a strong core of incoming first-years who are gaining valuable experience as the season presses on. Two to look out for this Friday are flanker Jim Gabriel and scrum-half Max Cisneros. 

Ford believes that broadcasting this game on YouTube for the world to see is an amazing opportunity for them that should not be taken lightly. 

“We have kids on our team who are exchange students from Spain, so the fact that their parents can get to see them play rugby in Colorado is the greatest present you can give these kids.”

Written by Joey Knese


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