Gents host Vail in summer opener | AspenTimes.com

Gents host Vail in summer opener

Tim Mutrie

Gentlemen of Aspen players get after each other during a scrimmage Tuesday evening at Wagner Park. On Saturday, the Gents open their summer league season against Vail. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

The Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club is bringing in one of their favorite punching bags – Vail – to kick off the summer league season on Saturday.It marks Aspen’s first return to the pitch in the 15-man game since the team withdrew midseason from the USA Rugby Super League in April. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Wagner Park downtown.The game promises to be a feisty one.

“It’s a rivalry, no doubt. There’s no love lost – well, on the field. Off the field, we’ll be the first to buy ’em a beer, but on the field, it’s a big rivalry,” said Mark Williams, a longtime Gents player who is coaching the summer league side with Fred Waititi and Andy Katoa.”And it’s going to be a big day for us after what happened with the Super League. We want to have a real good showing this summer, and we’re hoping we can kick things off right.”Vail is undefeated at 3-0 so far this summer with wins over Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge.”We’ve got some young talent in town that we’ve recruited for the summer and we’re pretty excited about some of these guys,” Williams said. “And then we’ve got some Super League guys like Nick Lane, Sean Maguire, Mark Wisroth, Paul Gibson and Isaac Mbereko who didn’t get to play the full season, so they’re champing at the bit to get out and play.”

As always, spectators are invited to attend.”We’ve got a few kids with just blazing speed. Blazing,” Williams said. “And we’re going back to the old roots – run and gun, and run, run, run and have some fun with it.”Meanwhile, Aspen’s 7-man team has played in three tournaments in the qualifying process for the 7s national championship tournament. The Gents 7s placed first, second and fourth in the three tourneys to date, Williams said.Next Saturday, July 9, the Gents 7s side will travel to Denver to compete in another tournament for the right to advance to the national tourney. And the same day, the Gents’ summer league squad will be in Steamboat Springs for tournament. “So the summer club will be a bit shorthanded, but that’s all right,” Williams said. “It’s good for us.”

On July 16, the Gents are playing host to a rugby extravaganza at Wagner. The main event will be a match between the over-33 national teams from Canada and the United States, with Gents vets like Williams, Jason Walker, Paul Gibson, Brian Hightower and Bo Buck suiting up for the U.S. Two undercard matches will pit the Gents against Boulder – “old boys and young boys,” Williams said.Williams said the team is simply excited to be back in the trenches after the Super League letdown.”It was tough because people were disappointed. But I’m very encouraged with the players’ attitudes and all the hard work. We just want to get out and play some games,” Williams said.Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is mutrie@aspentimes.com