Gents return to final 4 |

Gents return to final 4

The Gentlemen of Aspen are going back to the final four.

And they’re going back to defending their two consecutive USA Rugby national championships.

The Gentlemen won two critical games in Dallas this weekend in the sweet 16 of the USA Rugby national club tournament to advance to the final four.

On Saturday, the Aspen rugby team defeated the New York Athletic Club 32-12 with a unique, makeshift lineup.

And on Sunday, the Gentlemen defeated the Chicago Griffins 27-14 to earn a fourth consecutive trip to USA Rugby’s final four.

“We had a bit of a battle today,” said veteran Aspen coach Brian Going following the big win in Dallas Sunday. “We didn’t play as well as we can.

“It was a scratchy win … but we won and we’re excited to defend our title,” Going said amid the sweet 16 celebration in Texas.

“Our younger guys were a real key to the games Saturday and today,” Going said. “They stepped up big time.”

With several Aspen players unavailable on Saturday because of commitments with the U.S. Eagles, many of the Gentlemen were forced to play out of position in the critical game against NYAC.

“Saturday was a really, really big win for us. The front row played very well. And we dominated up front in both games,” Going said.

Aspen’s Robbie Dawe was selected as the most valuable player of the four-team sweet 16 qualifying tournament in Dallas. Playing center and then flanker, Dawe contributed a variety of key plays over the weekend, according to Going.

“He was very good with the ball in hand,” Going added.

As well, he said a number of new players made outstanding contributions, including lock Fleming Trane.

In addition, Darcy Brown, Jason Gillam and Sean McGuire played very well over the weekend for the Gentlemen of Aspen, Going said.

With veteran Mark Williams unavailable due to injury, Greg Pargee and Dawe shared the kicking duties for the Gentlemen with Dawe nailing two key conversions on Sunday.

The Chicago Griffins had reached Sunday’s game against Aspen with a strong 36-12 win over Seattle on Saturday, right after Aspen had defeated NYAC.

Now the Gentlemen of Aspen will head to Cincinnati on June 5-6 for the USA Rugby final four. And their first match will be against Hayward, Calif., on Saturday, June 5.

Hayward defeated OMBAC (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club of San Diego) 63-24 in the first round of its sweet 16 tournament. And on Sunday, Hayward topped California-rival San Mateo to reach the final four.

In the other bracket for the national finals, perennial power Old Blue of New York will take on Golden Gate on June 5 in Cincinnati.

Old Blue of New York beat the Pittsburgh Harlequins 23-7 on Saturday. And on Sunday, New York Old Blue stopped the Denver Barbarians 42-17 to advance to Cincinnati.

Golden Gate topped the Kiwitel NEC Unicorns 36-20 in the other Sunday qualifying game. Golden Gate had eliminated Philly-Whitemarsh 31-19 on Saturday.

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