Randy Mitchell was first introduced to Rugby in 1980 by his friend Larry Ydens. After several invites to games and practices Randy finally gave in and went to a Thursday night practice. The very next Saturday he traveled to Denver with the team to play his first B side game against the Denver Highlanders. It was love at first scrum, Randy was hooked on Rugby. The game, the cama- raderie, the fun and excitement was intoxicating.
Being a former champion high school and Navy wrestler, Rugby came easy to Randy. It wasn’t long before he was the starting scrum half for the Albuquerque Aardvarks. At that time the Aardvarks were having great success as well as challenges. They were playing division” 1” Rugby at a high level against teams from much larger cities with greater resources. The Aardvarks competed against the Colorado powerhouse teams as well as very strong teams from New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and California and were well respected.
The team had a solid pack as well as fast backs. To see Bob Cole turn the corner on the last defender and head for the Try line was a sight to see. Griffin Lewis called it “Champagne Rugby” and the name certainly fit.
After a few seasons the coaching staff noticed that Randy played more like a forward than a back and a change was made. After being tutored by Hooker/Coach Dick Greene and legendary Aardvark Hooker Griffin Lewis, Randy transitioned from Scrum half to Hooker. Brilliant observation by Ray Marrone and the coaches, and a perfect fit. This is also around the time when Aardvark legend Richard Barkley gave Randy the nickname “Iceman”. Richard said Randy looked like, and played like, a Neanderthal that had been frozen for 3000 years and when thawed out was really pissed off. That is a compli- ment …right?
Randy was a member of the team when the Aardvarks won 4 High Desert championships in a row. (A record still standing by any team). In the first championship game in 1987 against an extremely strong team from Oklahoma University, Randy tackled one of their backs so hard he had to be taken off the field by ambulance. This may have been one of his best games. Randy and Larry Ydens shared the Most Valuable Forward award for that year. Their lineout connection was virtually flawless and helped secure the victory over an extremely tough OU team that came to win.
After moving to Denver and being out of Rugby for a while, Randy dusted off the old boots and linked up with the Virginia Cardinals (very old boys) where he enjoys playing on occasion with Aardvark greats such as Dick Greene, Bill Hayward, Rick Zubiate, De- metrio Cardiel, Eric Heineke and Mark Teel. Randy now lives in the Denver area with his wife Mickey of 23 years and spends time restoring vintage cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
His two boys, Matt and Kris both live in the Bay area, and daughter Katie lives near Den- ver in the mountains.