Mark Teel’s rugby career began at New Mexico State University in 1979. It began under the premises, “You might be pretty good at this” and “If not, at least you can drink beer after every game.” After what is close to 36 years and still getting the opportunity to lace them up occasionally, it remains the same. You still get to drink beer after every game. The jury is still out on the, “you may be pretty good at this………”
Mark had the opportunity and privilege to play with and against some of the finest athletes anywhere.
When he first started playing at NMSU, Mark was introduced to a style of play that centered on physical ability and brute force while lacking actual rugby skill and exper- tise. This approach did carry NMSU to the Collegiate Final Four in 1982 where he was given the opportunity to get knocked on his butt by the best college players in the country.
In 1986, while working out with a friend of his and team mate from college, they ran into a long time Aardvark player and exceptional lock, Larry Ydens. Larry asked them if they had ever played rugby before and if so, would they be interested in playing for Albuquerque Aardvarks. Mark was wearing a NMSU Rugby T-shirt. Way to dig it out, Larry. Mark believed his initial response, at that crucial moment was, “We played against you guys in college. We hated you guys.” Mark was not completely sure what transpired after that first meeting. All he can say was, over the next 15 years he was given the gift to play with the most athletically talented, physically tough and in some cases, mentally challenged individuals anywhere. The names are too many to list here. Suffice it to say, Mark will never forget any of you.
Mark’s playing days have come to the occa- sional Old Boys tournament and pick up game. The speed of the game may now border on a fast round of golf. Finally, his lack of speed is paying off. The love for the game still exists, along with the desire to compete and win. There is also the weird satisfaction from fold- ing an opposing player too. What a game…… The fire still rages.