Aspen rugby club to host Steamboat on June 16 to open its summer season | AspenTimes.com

Aspen rugby club to host Steamboat on June 16 to open its summer season

They may have called it a "friendly," but that's rarely the case when the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club meets on the pitch against Vail. The two clubs met last weekend at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Denver in a tune-up for the upcoming Rocky Mountain Rugby league season.

Aspen won the match 24-20 before sticking around to watch the U.S. national rugby team trounce Russia 62-13 as part of their summer series.

"We won, which is great. They had a lot more depth," Gents coach Will Herborn said. "It was a really good first run against a quality side like Vail. A good benchmark test."

Aspen traveled with an undersized group of about 20 for the friendly with Vail, and the win came despite only having a few quality practices in the bag this summer.

"They seemed to be very prepared for the game and it seemed like they were going to win," second-year Gent Murray Linn said. "We were very pleased with the result."

Competition will step up a notch Saturday when Aspen hosts Steamboat Springs in the first official league game of the summer season. The game begins at 1 p.m. and will be played at Rio Grande Park in Aspen.

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"I'm not sure what their team is going to be like this year, but I'm confident we will put on a good show," said Linn, who hails from Ireland and is one of the team captain's this summer. "It's good to see the core coming together and putting on some really good rugby, which I hope the people of Aspen will come see and enjoy."

The Gents have won the mountain league the past two seasons, which coincides with Herborn's first two seasons as the head coach. They've become every other team's main target, and it's a feeling the club has embraced.

"It's nice to have an expectation put on us going into a match. It pushes us to really hold ourselves to a high standard in training," Linn said. "We know the expectation held to us and it's fun trying to uphold it and play the best rugby we can and be Gentlemen."

On top of a couple other home games this summer, the Gents are scheduled to host the annual Ski Town Rugby Tournament, which is hosted by a different ski town each year. Herborn said it's probably been nearly 10 years since Aspen last hosted the tournament, which they won a year ago when Steamboat Springs was the host.

Ski Town Aspen is currently scheduled for July 21. Along with Steamboat's annual Cowpie tournament, which will be played July 7, the highlight of the season will come after mountain league play wraps up with the 51st annual Aspen Ruggerfest tournament, held Sept. 13 to 16.

Before then, the Gents have a Saturday date with Steamboat to kick off the summer season.

"This ain't so friendly," Herborn joked. "I'm expecting we should put on a good performance."

There is no cost to watch Saturday's match at Rio Grande Park.

acolbert@aspentimes.com