Players Added: Justin Pauga
Players Subtracted: Mike Garrity, Iniki Fa’amausili
Coaching Changes (if any): Pete Borlase (head coach), Jason Kelly (backs), Mike Mangan (forwards)
Team Leaders/Player to Watch: Logan Collins, Maximo De Achaval, Ata Malifa
Warm-up Matches (w/results): Inter-squad scrimmage
The Barbarians have to look back at 2014 and think about what could have been. If it weren’t for a stretch of poor form on the road early in the season the team could have potentially pushed for a playoff spot. Led by Max de Achaval, Logan Collins, and others, the Barbarians have a core group of players that have been together for quite awhile. They know each other and often what they might lack in athleticism in comparison to other teams (something Denver would probably debate) they make up for in rugby smarts. That has propelled them to a lot of wins in the past and will almost certainly do so again this year.
It all begins with de Achaval who is one of the finest flyhalfs in the country. He organizes the Barbarians well and they don’t make too many mistakes. The difficulty last year was depth. Throughout a longer season the Barbarians struggled to put in consistent performances with players coming in and out of the lineup. This year they team has added Justin Pauga from rivals Glendale and has been working on their fitness in the offseason to combat this issue.
Two other names that might potentially help the Barbarians this year include Ben Pinkelman and Kevon Williams. Both were outstanding for the Barbarians during the summer 7s season and Pinkelman has had a look with the Eagles at the American Rugby Championships. Williams adds a jolt of speed that few other teams have. If both players can join the club for a majority of their matches then the Barbarians should have to feel good about their chances.
To get more information on the team we talked with club administrator Tyson Meek.
PRP: The Barbarians had an up and down season last year. What are you doing to become more consistent this year?
Tyson Meek: We are making sure we nail our basics down and have I feel we have a blue print in place that is adaptable to change with the flow of the game. At every training we’re bringing intensity along with lifting the bar and testing ourselves.
PRP: Do you think you’ll take any momentum from the summer 7s season into the PRP season?
TM: With the fall season separating 7s and the PRP I’m not sure that we will take any momentum from 7s into the PRP. However, 7s provides a great opportunity for all players to improve their skill set and we do hope to see our 7s players display those improved skills this PRP season.
PRP: Kevon Williams has played for the club in the past and could he be a player that periodically comes into the team?
TM: We are still working with Kevon to figure out when he will be available to us, but it is a bit of a trek for him compared to guys living here in Colorado.
PRP: What do you think you learned from your first year in the PRP and what are doing to improve this year?
TM: We learned that it is a long season, and you need to have a solid core group of players that are committed to the season and build your depth from there. We started slow last season with the road trips and have made more of a concerted effort to be outside more in the preseason this year, and hope that will help us early on.
PRP: How as the PRP intensified your rivalry with Glendale?
TM: It’s always been there and always will be there, but I guess it is magnified in a comp like the PRP. For quite a while we were not in the same division and did not play meaningful league matches against each other. Now we are guaranteed to play twice a PRP season, and that definitely ups the ante.