Virginia SOBs choose Ruggerfest over hurricane |

Virginia SOBs choose Ruggerfest over hurricane

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

While their families and neighbors back home were no doubt bracing for (or fleeing from) Hurricane Isabel last night, the Sons of Beaches rugby club of Norfolk, Va., was out practicing at Aspen’s Rio Grande Park.

For the Sons of Beaches – Ruggerfest’s defending 45-and-over Old Boys champions – the talk was of lineouts not land falls, scrumming not scramming. Not that the team won’t be glued to the Weather Channel in between their matches today, Day 1 of the 36th annual Aspen Ruggerfest.

“We had to make some tough decisions before we left,” said Johnny Ellis, captain of the SOBs, “because the hurricane is barreling down on us.”

Forecasters expected Isabel to smack the Virginia coastline sometime late this afternoon.

“I guess it shows we’re pretty committed to rugby, and also that we’ve got some very supportive wives and families back home,” added Ellis, a 55-year-old life insurance salesman from Virginia Beach.

Last year, the SOBs went undefeated in the “oldest boys” division, a perfect 5-0 that included a victory over the California Bald Eagles in the championship.

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“We’re back with virtually the same players, except a year older,” Ellis joked. “Pretty much everybody wanted to do it again – this is such a great tournament.”

The SOBs are largely made up of players from the Norfolk Blues’ 1982 side, when the team finished third in the national club championships in Palo Alto, Calif. “And I might add that that was a long time ago,” Ellis said.

Seven teams make up the over-45 field this year. The teams will battle in pool play at Wagner Park throughout the day today until the top two teams emerge to clinch slots in Sunday’s over-45 championship match.

On Friday, the 35-and-over Old Boys division takes center stage, and on Saturday, the Men’s and Women’s Open divisions will be featured all day at Wagner and Rio Grande parks.

All the championship matches, for the over-45 and over-35 Old Boys and the Men’s and Women’s Open division, will be played on Sunday at Wagner Park.