U.S. ruggersface Canada Saturday at Wagner Park | AspenTimes.com

U.S. ruggersface Canada Saturday at Wagner Park

Tim Mutrie

Aspen will host its first international rugby match – a clash between the over-33 national teams from the United States and Canada – on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Wagner Park.While Aspen has hosted one USA Rugby Super League championship game and dozens of other significant national-level matches, Saturday’s showdown will be the first time national teams of any level take the pitch locally.Saturday’s lineup at Wagner also features two undercard matches between the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club and Boulder. An Aspen-Boulder Old Boys match is slated for an 11 a.m. kick off., followed by an Aspen-Boulder Young Boys (or A-sides) game at 1 p.m.”It’s going to be a great weekend for Aspen rugby,” said Gents veteran Mark Williams.”You know how at Ruggerfest they say, lock up your daughters, the rugby teams are coming? Well, what they say about these over-33 guys is, lock up your grandmothers.”Williams is the captain of the U.S. over-33 team. Three other veteran Gents, Jason Walker, Brian Hightower and Paul Gibson, will also be suiting up for the red, white and blue Saturday.The match serves as “friendly” tune-up in anticipation of the annual “Bermuda World Classics” in October. Over-33 rugby teams are often called “Classics.””With the Canadians, I think it will be very physical,” Williams said. “In over 33s, you’re allowed substitutions as often as you want, but on penalties you can’t go for post” – meaning there are no penalty kicks for points – “so there will be a lot of running and hitting.””I tell you, they may not be as fast as they used to be, but they’re a lot smarter – they’re still playing at a very high level. I’d say it’ll be very friendly off the field, but not so much on the field. Even though it’s old boys, both teams are representing their countries, so they’ll be very interested in wearing the colors with pride. It’ll be very competitive.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is mutrie@aspentimes.com