Gentlemen win fifth straight Ruggerfest title |

Gentlemen win fifth straight Ruggerfest title

Tim Mutrie

The Gentlemen of Aspen rugby team collected its fifth straight Ruggerfest title Sunday, defeating the Denver Barbarians 39-14 at Wagner Park in the men’s championship match.

The Gents struck early and often in the first half en route to their 11th overall Ruggerfest title in the tournament’s 33-year history.

Fly half and kicker Mark Williams put the Gents up 3-0 less than two minutes into the game with a penalty-kick field goal. Back Brian Hightower notched the Gents’ first try 15 minutes into play, followed by another try at 23 minutes. Hightower followed a Williams pooch kick, recovering the ball five meters out and then grinding through several Barbarians to punch in the try.

Barbarians kicker and back Link Wilfley broke the ice for the Barbarians 16 minutes into the first half, kicking a penalty-kick field goal. Wilfley accounted for nine of the Barbarians points, all coming off penalty-kick field goals.

Gents players Rata Going and Matt Cook also scored tries to give the home team a comfortable 27-9 lead at the half.

The Gents dominated much of the game – thanks to solid scrum play and speedy backs, led by the hard-hitting Quinten Going – and nearly kept the Barbarians from scoring a try. But about 25 minutes into the second half, speedy Denver back Bobby Lockrem followed a Barbarians kick and recovered the ball to bring it in for a try.

“The first half was good,” the Gents’ Mark Williams, a former U.S. national rugby team player, said. “But we kept giving up penalties in the second half and we couldn’t get any continuity in our game.

“But the boys played well,” Williams said.

Williams called the Gents’ fifth straight Ruggerfest win a “great accomplishment.”

“The Barbos (Barbarians) came out hard and tackled like demons; my hat’s off to them.”

In the over-45 “Old Boys” division, the California Bald Eagles bested the Florida Old Boys 9-8 in Sunday’s final.

“It was a very close game,” said tournament organizer Tim Francis, the Gents’ chairman of the board. “Florida won it last year, and they had a kick at the end of the game with a chance to win it and they missed.”

In the over-35 “Old Boys” division, the Kansas City Blues Brothers beat a team from Santa Monica, Calif., 20-17 in Sunday’s final. In the men’s consolation match Sunday, the Kansas City Blues beat Boulder 22-17 to clinch third place overall.

A total of 29 rugby clubs participated in the 33rd annual Ruggerfest, a competition that was marred this year by some on-field violence late in a preliminary game Saturday between the Denver Barbarians and the Provo Steelers.

Three players from Provo were arrested on third-degree assault charges related to the bench-clearing brawl for allegedly kicking and punching a defenseless Barbarian player.

“It was ugly,” said Tim Francis, a former Gents player. “It was not the pretty side of rugby.”

“Provo was dismissed forever,” Francis continued Sunday. “We told them to leave the tourney and never to come back again.”

“Aside from that, overall it’s been a great weekend,” he said. “The weather has been awesome.”

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