Aspen rugby ready to get summer rolling with first match Saturday at Glenwood
June 7, 2017
Like a bull in its pen, the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club players are ready to escape the drudgery of practice to feel the rush of live action on the pitch.
"There is a lot of testosterone here, so everyone is definitely itching to play," Lungi Tshuma said. "When we do play, we'll see where we are."
The Gents will officially get their season underway Saturday when they play Defiance Rugby Club at Glenwood Park in Glenwood Springs. Tshuma is one of a handful of returning players who will join with a bevy of newcomers to create the 2017 version of Aspen rugby.
"As long as you play rugby, then you got thousands or millions of brothers all over the world," Tshuma said. "It is a little bit of work in terms of building myself and my future and helping out with Aspen rugby. But because rugby is my passion as well, it's pleasure. So it's a good time."
The Gents come from myriad nationalities and rugby backgrounds, and Tshuma is no different. The 25-year-old from Zimbabwe is in his second summer in Aspen, and looks to be one of the top returners for the club.
Rugby has taken Tshuma all over the globe, from Hong Kong to his native Africa and beyond. He's currently working on a degree in international relations at Lindenwood University in Missouri, and his first summer in Aspen went so well it was an easy decision to return.
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"Obviously there were other options, but I think this is definitely the best thing for me at the moment," Tshuma said. "There is still a lot of work to do, but it's not really about how many games we win. It's really about when people go back wherever they are going, they can take something from this, which is what we try and achieve."
The is a milestone season for the Gents, with everything culminating in the 50th annual Aspen Ruggerfest tournament, held Sept. 14 to 17 at Wagner Park.
Until then, there is a lot of matches to be had first, starting with the crew from Glenwood on Saturday.
"It's a bit of a rivalry for the valley here," said Will Herborn, who coaches the Gents alongside Cam McIntyre. "They were our last game last season, so I'm sure they want to put a few points on us this time. But I think it will be a good, good contest on Saturday."
The Gents tentative schedule has them playing nearly every weekend during the summer. Following Saturday's opener, they'll host Gunnison June 17 at Willits before traveling to a Denver 7s tournament on June 24.
The club hopes to host a pending invitational game July 1 before heading to Steamboat Springs for the annual Cowpie Classic on July 8. They'll make a return trip to Steamboat the following week for a single match and then host Vail July 22 at Wagner in Aspen.
A third trip to Steamboat comes July 29 for the Ski Town Classic, leading to the Gents' final home game, Aug. 5 against the Echo Mountain Misfits at Wagner. Aspen is scheduled to close out its summer schedule Aug. 12 at Grand Junction.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Herborn said. "I feel pretty confident so far. A good, enthusiastic bunch of guys with a lot of skill to work with."
The Gents will host their summer season launch party at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Eric's Bar in Aspen. Supporters can come meet the players from this year's team ahead of their opener Saturday at 3 p.m. in Glenwood.