Gents aim to launch playoff run from Boston
May 10, 2002
Through no doing of their own, the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club will enter the playoffs ideally positioned for a record sixth-straight U.S. National Championship.
Instead of facing perennial powerhouse OMBAC, the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club of San Diego, in the first round of the playoffs, Aspen is likely to face Life University, a team they beat 47-10 on April 6.
Of course, the Gents need a win Saturday in their regular-season finale at Boston to lock up that coveted No. 4 seed in the postseason.
Following a 90-8 rout of the Olympic Club Old Blues of San Francisco last Saturday, Aspen secured a berth in the eight-team playoffs. (All 17 teams in the Premier League, save Aspen and Boston, completed their regular-season schedules Saturday.) And because of an inter-divisional conflict in the three-division, 17-team Premier League playoff format, Aspen was bounced into a bracket separate from some of its most respected rivals, including OMBAC, Golden Gate of San Francisco and undefeated Belmont Shore, the only team to beat Aspen this season.
So instead of facing OMBAC – the team Aspen narrowly beat 23-10 on April 20 and the team Aspen was originally slated to face in the playoff opener were it not for the last-minute bracket realignment – Aspen will now likely host No. 6 Life University. In the other quaterfinal in Aspen’s bracket, No. 2 New York Old Blues hosts No. 7 Kansas City Blues.
The opposing bracket features No. 1 Belmont Shore vs. No. 8 Dallas Harlequins and No. 3 Golden Gate vs. No. 5 OMBAC.
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“That’ll do us. Bring it on,” said Aspen coach Brian Going, speaking about the newly formed playoff picture.
However, for Aspen, 4-1 on the season, first things come first in the form of the Boston R.F.C. Boston stands at 2-3 on the season, and out of the postseason picture.
“At the risk of sounding like they’re a weak team, it’s probably the last chance for me to see different combinations of forwards and backs that I may want to experiment with,” Going said. “But they’re not a weak team. They always seem to rise to the occasion against us.”
And even with the playoffs looming on the horizon, Going said he’s trying to ignore it and remain focused on the challenge at hand on Saturday.
“I’m only looking to the Boston match. I just want to take this game in our stride, then refocus after it, our goals and targets that is, when the game is finished.”
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