46th annual Ruggerfest kicks off in Aspen
The Aspen Times
With the morning sunshine beaming down on Wagner Rugby Stadium in Aspen, the referee’s whistle pierced the air precisely at 11 o’clock Thursday to start the 46th annual Aspen Ruggerfest.
Barely 3 minutes later, 57-year-old Ralph Brown, of Las Cruces, N.M., scored the first try of the four-day rugby fest in Aspen. Playing for the Virginia Cardinals in the Over 55 Division, Brown bulled across the goal line under the shadow of the red-and-black goalposts at the north end of Wagner Rugby Stadium.
Dragging Florida Old Boys with him, Brown touched the ball down for the first score in the 2013 rugby tournament.
“This is my second time here,” Brown said on the sidelines after taking a breather midway through the first half of the first game. “I played here once before; happy to be back.”
With that, Brown turned and walked down the sidelines, ready to return to the field.
Thursday’s games in the Over 55 and Over 45 divisions launched the 46th edition of Aspen’s annual fall rugby extravaganza.
Today, play is scheduled in the Over 35 and Over 50 divisions. Games will be contested at Wagner Rugby Stadium and Rio Grande Park.
Play in the featured Open Division will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at both rugby venues in downtown Aspen.
The final day of competition will be Sunday. Championship matches in all division will begin at noon at Wagner.
The Open Division championship will be played at 3:45 p.m. Sunday at Wagner Rugby Stadium where the CrossFit Colfax Barbarians from Denver defeated the Glendale Raptors in the 2012 Ruggerfest Open championship.
The 2013 Ruggerfest field includes two sides from Great Britain — Willing RFC in the Open Division and the Richmond Heavies in the Over 35 Division.
A select team representing the U.S. Air Force will play in the Open Division, preparing for an international matchup against the RAF rugby all-stars.
Teams scheduled for the Open Division also include the Kansas Jayhawks, Boulder, the Glendale Raptors and the Denver Highlanders.
The Gentlemen of Aspen will field a team in the 35s this year.
They’ll take on the likes of Boulder, the Denver Barbarians, the Virginia Cardinals and a squad of former Atlanta Renegades players.
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For Basalt, one of the preseason frontrunners in the Western Slope League, Friday’s loss puts its playoff hopes in jeopardy, while Aspen’s loss to the Bulldogs all but eliminates it from postseason contention.