Gents of Aspen to play Misfits for Ruggerfest title
Sunday’s CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH SCHEDULE
All matches are played at Wagner Rugby Stadium
9:20 a.m. Old Boys 55s: Cardinals Rugby vs. Florida Old Boys
10:20 a.m. Old Boys 50s: Boulder Rugby vs. Cardinals Rugby
12:20 p.m. Old Boys 45s: Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits vs. Olympic Club
1:40 p.m. Women: Black Ice vs. Goslings Gold MissFits
2:40 p.m. Masters 35s: Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits vs. Gentlemen of Aspen
4:00 p.m. Open: Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits vs. Gentlemen of Aspen
Rex Christensen, a 2011 Aspen High School graduate, called it a “gap in my life.” He is talking about his days as a college student at the University of Southern California, where he graduated with a degree in global economics.
A former Skier quarterback and linebacker, Christensen didn’t spend a lot of time in the competitive mindset of an athlete while attending USC. But upon returning to Aspen, he was convinced to try his hand at rugby, and soon became one of the handful of native Roaring Fork Valley athletes playing with the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club.
“I’m definitely learning a lot. It’s a different pace of game. Football, you have plays and you stop. Rugby is a continuous game,” Christensen said. “Everyone is encouraging. Everyone on this team is at different levels of rugby, and me being at the bottom of that, it’s cool to see them interact in helping me.”
Christensen did try club rugby in college, but only a week in he broke his collarbone on a tackle, and that was that. While some football players have a difficult time transitioning to rugby because of football’s one-on-one mentality, Gents coach Cameron McIntyre said that same issue hasn’t plagued Christensen.
“I think he had enough time away from football. He doesn’t play rugby with a football mentality,” McIntyre said. “He has come with the mentality of space, and that’s an important thing. Perhaps that comes from his lacrosse days, where they run into spaces and not into people so much.”
Christensen wants to keep playing rugby moving forward, and some of that may have to do with the success the Gents had Saturday. With the open division of the 49th annual Aspen Ruggerfest getting underway, the Gentlemen of Aspen went 3-0 — all three wins also being shutouts — and will play in today’s 4 p.m. championship game against the Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits at Wagner Park.
“In the end, it’s probably the two best teams there. Certainly, that’s what the scoreboard says,” McIntyre said of the final match. “They are an extremely good team; full of talent all the way across the board — big and fast and skilled. They are what they wanted to be.”
This will be a rematch of last year’s championship, in which the Gents beat the Misfits to end a five-year drought without a Ruggerfest title. That loss sent Misfit coach and organizer Whitey Nelson into recruiting mode, where he brought in many pro players — including numerous former U.S.A. Eagles — to comprise this year’s Ruggerfest team.
The Misfits had little difficulty Saturday, beating Heart of America (45-0), the Denver Barbarians (38-13) and the Glendale Raptors (33-0) to make the championship match. The Gents beat KC Rugby Club (38-0), Boulder Rugby (33-0) and Maccabi USA (34-0) to have the shot at a repeat title Sunday.
“It means a lot. It’s a commitment to defense, a commitment and the respect for the player beside you,” McIntyre said of the Gents’ three shutouts. “As most times in any championship type game, it is the defense. You just need to be organized in defense and make sure we don’t let (the Misfits) in on anything easy — make sure they work for it.”
At 1:40 p.m. today, the women’s championship match will be played against the Black Ice and the Goslings Gold MissFits at Wagner Park. The Black Ice, based out of Denver, went 4-0 in pool play Saturday, including a 21-10 win over the MissFits (3-1).
At 2:40 p.m., the Gentlemen of Aspen 35s side will play for the masters championship against the Dark ‘n Stormy Misfits 35s side at Wagner Park.
For more information, including updating results and schedules, visit http://www.aspen-ruggerfest.com.
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A majority of users of the popular Red Hill Recreation Area north of Carbondale say they would be OK with closing the trails during the muddiest times of the year.