Glendale Merlins at Austin Blacks, Jan. 20, 2018

by | Jan 18, 2018 | D1 Men

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Glendale Chamber

Beginning their inaugural season in the Red River Conference (RRC), the Glendale Merlins Men’s Division I team will travel to Texas to face the Austin Blacks this Saturday. Playing at the D1 level for the first time in four years, and with a new head coach, the team is looking forward to the high level competition promised in the RRC. Head coach Luke Gross, himself a 13-year professional rugby veteran, reflected on the upcoming season: “Our team is a good mix of new guys and more established Glendale players. We have a couple of great looking new back line players, as well as a couple new tight fives that are meshing well with the older players. It’s great to have that mix to help maintain the Glendale mindset and work ethic that we are so proud of. It will be exciting to see how this team continues to develop as a unit as the season goes on.”.

Glendale Merlins Men

Photo by Seth McConnell

The decision to move to the RRC is being made in an effort to meet the challenges of finding meaningful rugby competition in the Mountain West, as well as to continue to refine and improve Glendale’s rugby pathway by competing at the highest level of Division I play. Coach Gross noted that access to the professional league coaches in Glendale has helped prepare the D1 team for the season and beyond: “The Raptors Major League Rugby coaches, David and Ted, have been making regular appearances at our practices, which is bringing the level of intensity and training up to a whole other level. Their input and observations go a very long way to bridging that gap between non-professional and professional rugby here at Glendale and the systems they have been putting in place are already making a big difference for this team.”

Playing in the Red River Conference offers the Merlins an exceptional level of competition, in addition to a well-established league structure and a significant fan base. The 2018 season will feature teams that call Texas, Arkansas, and Colorado home, regular season matches against teams from Austin, Dallas, and Little Rock, as well as two non-league games for the Merlins: one facing St. Mary’s College of Moraga, California, and a second against the Chicago Griffins.

Glendale’s first home game of the season is March 10th, when the Merlins will face off against the Austin Blacks on Infinity Park’s Turf Field. All Merlins home games will have free admission in 2018.

Traveling Roster

  • Giorgi Tsverava
  • Thomas Downey
  • Christopher Hathaway
  • Christopher Schoelch
  • Brett Gallrein
  • Devin Vaughter
  • Alex Fitch
  • Brian Wanless
  • Westley Laborde
  • Ryan Chavkin
  • Dennis Papike
  • Clint Cook
  • Irakli Chkhikvabze
  • Juta Vakabua
  • Lindani Sanele Myeni
  • Kyle Stoffers
  • Carlo De Nysschen
  • Trever Wilder
  • Scott Smith
  • Tola Kasali
  • Richard Thomas Jr. Davidson
  • Nathen Faamatuainu
  • Devin Pearl

Traveling Staff

  • ATS: Jeffrey Horgan
  • Assistant coach: Mose Timoteo
  • Assistant coach: James Duncan
  • Head coach: Luke Gross