Annual Aspen Ruggerfest kicks off Thursday |

Annual Aspen Ruggerfest kicks off Thursday

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Rugby rushes to center stage in Aspen this week with the 48th annual Ruggerfest tournament. Play begins Thursday and continues through Sunday.
Aubree Dallas / The Aspen Times |

Let’s play.

Aspen Ruggerfest 2015 kicks off Thursday with a return to one of rugby’s most historic venues – Wagner Park, aka Wagner Rugby Stadium.

The new moniker takes over at Wagner as the 48th annual rugby tournament returns with games all through the weekend.

This year, for the first time, a women’s rugby exhibition will be included in the four-day rugby festival.

And just for good measure, the defending Ruggerfest champion Glendale Raptors from the Denver area will be back to try to repeat in 2015. Glendale will face a tough and talented field in the open division, which begins play Saturday.

The perennial Ruggerfest powerhouse Denver Barbarians will be out to reclaim a Ruggerfest title they lost last season to Glendale.

A select side from Utah, the Grundels, will make their bid in the open division this year along with a national select side, the Misfits.

The winner of the first Ruggerfest title, Kansas City, also will be back in Aspen bidding for an open division title.

The host Gentlemen of Aspen also will field an open division squad, including several products of the Junior Gents’ rugby program.

First, play will begin Thursday in the senior divisions of Ruggerfest — the age 55s and 45s.

The 45s field includes the Virginia Cardinals, regular Ruggerfest visitors, along with the all-star Misfits.

In the 55s division, three teams will compete — Virginia Cardinals, Florida Old Boys and Boulder.

All games today will be at Wagner Rugby Stadium in downtown Aspen.

On Friday, play will begin in the popular 35 age division.

That field will include an all-star squad of Gentlemen of Aspen — past and present. The Aspen Gents 35s will face a field that includes Atlanta, the Kansas City Blues Brothers, the Misfits and 50 Shades of Gray, a select side from Tennessee.

The Aspen side is set for games at 9:40 a.m. Saturday and again at 12:10 p.m. Saturday. The Aspen Gents’ 35s will play thier third game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

All games will be at Wagner

The Saturday rugby schedule will highlight a women’s match at 3 p.m. between Boulder and the Colorado all-stars. The women’s game will be at Wagner Rugby Stadium

Saturday also will feature games among the top open division teams, including all-star players from around North America.

On Saturday, games will be at Wagner and Rio Grande Park, beginning at 8 a.m.

Games will continue through the late afternoon as the finalists are determines for Sunday’s championship day at Ruggerfest 2015.

The Sunday schedule will open with a juniors exhibition at 8:30 a.m. at Wagner.

Then the championship will follow in the 55s and the 35s.

Open division consolation matches are set for 11 a.m.

The 45s final will be at noon followed by a women’s match at 1 p.m.

The 35s final will be at 2 p.m. Sunday with the grand finale — the open division final — on tap for 3:30 p.m. at Wagner Rugby Stadium.