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Gents crush Boulder in opener

Tim Mutrie

On a snow-covered pitch in Boulder Saturday, the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club opened their spring schedule with a 53-8 rout of Boulder.

Playing in their first “snowbowl” since Ruggerfest 1985, the Gents cruised to victory in a game that served as a tuneup for the heart of the team’s 2001 U.S.A. Rugby premier division spring schedule, which opens Saturday in San Diego. On Saturday, against OMBAC (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club), the four-time defending U.S.A. Rugby National Champions Gents will renew their quest for a fifth consecutive title.

“All things considered – snow conditions, cold temperatures and all the other elements – we had an exceptional first outing,” said John Silich, former Gents coach and club spokesman. “The senior players executed as expected, and the new players stated a case for being included on the first team squad.”

The Gents amassed 53 points on tries from captain Chris Morrow, who scored two tries and kicked four conversions for a total of 18 points. Shaka Hatcher also found the try zone twice, while Jason Walker, Juan Grobler, Andy Katoa, Paul Kirk and Rob Dawe all recorded tries too.

“The performance of the squad overall puts us in great shape for this weekend and the rest of the season,” Silich said.

Since the fall of 1995, when the Gents ceased being a “summer club” and began playing elite U.S.A. Rugby and Rugby Super League schedules spring, summer and fall, the Gents have posted an astounding overall record of 100-5, including Saturday’s win. This year, U.S.A. Rugby and Rugby Super League are now unified, meaning the Gents won’t have to crisscross the country to play 20 or more games within each league in order to contend for the respective leagues’ titles.

This year, the Gents play an 8-game regular season schedule, under the auspices of U.S.A. Rugby, against the best club teams in the West. After the regular season, the top four teams advance to the playoffs, where they’ll contend with the top four teams from the east for the June 10 National Championships in Chicago.

“Every game from here on out is a league game, with National Championship playoff implications,” Silich explained. “And our target is to win every game.”

OMBAC, the Gents’ opponent Saturday, is one of the top clubs in the nation, having claimed a total of six national championships in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Each year, we target a match that we feel will help propel us to a successful season and we feel that this weekend’s game against OMBAC is that match,” Silich said. “They live in San Diego, so they’ve been outside playing for three months. They’re a top-line club, but we feel we’re a worthy opponent.”

Winter conditions have forced the Gents to prepare for their spring schedule indoors, at the Cozy Point riding arena. Saturday’s game at Boulder helped the team regain its footing outdoors, and the team is ready for Saturday, Silich said.

The Gents are scheduled to host their first home game March 31 against the Old Blues of Kansas City.

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