Aspen rugby crushes Breckenridge in home opener with Vail up next
Expectations were that the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club would be able to make easy work of a short-handed Breckenridge side on Saturday. Reality played out exactly that way, with the Gents winning 73-14 at Rio Grande Park in the home opener for Aspen.
“It was a really positive performance today,” coach Ben Mitchell said. “The first half, in particular, we scored 40 unanswered points and whenever you do that in a rugby game you know you’re doing something right.”
This is Mitchell’s first season coaching the Gents, so Saturday’s game against Breck happened to be his Aspen debut, as well. Currently a member of the Austin Elite Rugby club in Major League Rugby, Mitchell is a former Gent himself and likes where the team sits as it heads into July.
An outmatched Breck side was nothing more than a tune-up for what lies ahead.
“Really pleased with the overall performance,” Mitchell said. “We seem to be improving each week, which is important. As we move on through the season there will be tougher tests, and it’s important we keep getting better.”
Aspen is 4-0 after Saturday’s match. The Gents also have wins over the Misfits, Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs, with their game up in Steamboat a few weeks ago being the closest. The Breck game was arguably their most complete to date.
“I felt like we really ran the system today,” said Chris Campbell, a first-year Gent from St. Louis who was named the man of the match against Breck. “The boys were really pushing hard on offense and defense, both sides of the ball. We were just playing as a unit and it was all about our intensity today.”
Next weekend, Campbell will get his first taste of the Aspen-Vail rivalry, something he admitted to not knowing much about. True rivals in just about everything, it’ll be especially evident on the pitch Saturday when Vail comes to town for a 1 p.m. game.
Vail had an impressive summer a year ago, having won the annual Ski Town tournament in Aspen last year, while sweeping the Gents. The Gents will look to return the favor Saturday in one of the biggest matches of the season for either side.
“There is a bit of an extra buzz for the Vail week,” Mitchell said. “We definitely want to get one up on them. We lost twice to them last year and we want to get the wins back against Vail.”