Gentlemen head to Westerns in El Paso |

Gentlemen head to Westerns in El Paso

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Gentlemen of Aspen will put their undefeated record on the line this weekend when they head to El Paso, Texas, for the Westerns, a first-round tournament in the battle for USA Rugby’s national title.

Aspen, the three-time defending national champion, qualified for the Westerns in March with wins over league rivals Boulder and the Denver Barbarians, and the Gentlemen enter the weekend’s event well rested after an off-week.

In their last two games, the Gents toppled the Dallas Harlequins by a count of 65-24 on April 8 in Aspen and then defeated Golden Gate 32-20 on April 15 in Carbondale.

The Gents’ last win, which came at the expense of the team Aspen toppled in last year’s national championship game, kept the Gentlemen undefeated on the season at 7-0 despite the absence of longtime Aspen captain and national team player Mark Williams, who was in the Caribbean getting married and missed the game versus Golden Gate.

With its top three finishers advancing to next month’s Sweet 16, the Westerns will be the first step in Aspen’s quest to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive national crown.

“We want to win four nationals in a row,” said team president Andrew Saltonstal. “No one’s done that in the modern era.”

To aid them in their effort, the Gents took a full, 28-man squad to El Paso for the grueling schedule, which will have them playing three games in three days.

Following their trek to Texas, the Gentlemen will return to Aspen for a May 6 match with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) at Rio Grande Field in Aspen, weather permitting.

Then it’s back to playoff rugby with the Sweet 16 set for May 13-14 and the USA Rugby Super League semifinals on May 27. Venues for both events have yet to be determined.

Looking further down the road, the national championship will be decided the weekend of June 3-4, and the following week, June 10, the Super League finals will be played in Philadelphia.

The Gentlemen also have another home game scheduled for May 31 against the Luton Rugby Football Club, a touring team from England.

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