Just a few days before they travel to Houston to open the 2020 Major League Rugby season against the SaberCats, the Colorado Raptors roster was injected with a huge boost of talent and experience.

After signing with the Raptors in November 2019, former All Black Rene Ranger landed in Denver earlier this week and has begun training with the team. Ranger was one of the blockbuster signings in Major League Rugby this offseason, and he is ready to get rolling for the Raptors.

“I’m pretty stoked,” Ranger said on Wednesday. “I’m pretty ready. I’ve been out of the game for a while now, so it’ll be good to get out there and put some hits in and stuff.”

Since beginning his career in 2006, the 33-year-old has played two stints with Northland of the Mitre 10 Cup,  two stints with the Blues of Super Rugby, and stints with both Montpellier and La Rochelle of the Top 14. In addition to that, Ranger earned six caps with the All Blacks from 2010-2013 and one cap with Barbarian F.C. Ranger also spent some time with the New Zealand Sevens team from 2006-2008.

His tough running style and defensive tenacity will inject some more big-play abilities into the Raptors backline. Anytime he steps foot on the pitch, he has the ability to break open a game.

As expected, the Raptors didn’t let a player of Ranger’s caliber sit around upon arrival. He jumped straight into training to help the Raptors prepare for their upcoming match against the SaberCats despite it being unclear if he will make the trip to Houston.

“The first training was yesterday and I got pretty much chucked straight into the mix,” “It was good to get the lungs blowing and meet the lads. It was a lot of fun. The lungs are burning a little bit but it will be alright.”

Rugby aside, Ranger landed to a bit of a surprise when his wheels hit the ground at DIA. He came from a nice summer day in New Zealand to the winter wonderland that was Denver earlier this week. It was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit when he showed up for his first day of work on Tuesday.

“I guess the first impression since I got here is it’s pretty cold,” Range said with a laugh. “Pretty snowy. Coming from home it was pretty hot and pretty sunny. Coming to a bit of the snow and cold, I think I’ve only seen the snow like twice. Today the sun’s out now.”

Let’s hope Ranger can operate in the cold. His experience will be invaluable to the Raptors as they try to navigate their way back to the top of the table in 2020.

Colton Strickler

Colton Strickler is a Colorado guy through and through. He is a Wheat Ridge Farmer and a Colorado State Ram. He has been involved in the Colorado rugby community in some capacity since 2011. He was Major League Rugby's lead writer in 2018 and 2019 before joining DNVR Rugby.