Aspen rugby to host Steamboat on Saturday, a week after winning Cowpie
The 43rd annual Cowpie Classic rugby tournament, held last weekend in Steamboat Springs, has been extended. At least, that will be the feeling when Steamboat rugby travels to the Roaring Fork Valley to play the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“Steamboat kind of wants to have a little bit of a wager that if we lose to them this weekend, we give them back the Cowpie trophy,” Aspen coach Will Herborn said. “That was originally supposed to be at Steamboat, but they asked to play us out here.”
For the second year in a row, the Gents won the Cowpie Classic last weekend. Aspen went 3-0 in pool play, beating Queen City (17-10), the Gypsies (31-3) and the Misfits (56-0). The Gents then beat Boulder (19-0) in the semifinals before sneaking by Wyoming in the championship match, 24-20. Aspen won the final match with a try and successful conversion as time expired.
“The final game was touch and go. It was very back and forth,” Aspen player Darren Barth said. “It was very close. We ended up winning by four points. Had to score the conversion; the penalty wouldn’t have been good enough. It was a good win. The boys were really excited.”
Steamboat, which is usually a factor in its prestigious home tournament, also went 3-0 in pool play Saturday. However, only four of the 13 teams were allowed into the semis, and Boulder took the final spot over Steamboat due to a greater points differential. So, despite going undefeated, Steamboat could do nothing but watch as Aspen went on to win Cowpie yet again.
“It’s fine. We were undefeated. The guys played great and that’s how these tournaments work,” Steamboat coach Julian Bristow told the Steamboat Today. “The teams enter into that contract. We all understand it. Just today, Steamboat was on the wrong end of it.”
Which leads to this Saturday, when Steamboat will play at Aspen with the Cowpie results still fresh in each team’s minds.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Barth said. “The team is really developing. The boys are starting to play off each other and play together.”
Aspen’s only slip up this season has been losing in the championship game of the Denver 7s tournament a few weeks ago. They have wins over Glenwood Springs (57-20), Gunnison (forfeit) and a second over the Misfits (59-36) on their resume next to the Cowpie title.
And there still is plenty to go this summer. After hosting Steamboat Saturday, the Gents will host Vail on July 22 at Wagner Rugby Stadium. Then, July 29, they will return to Steamboat Springs for the Ski Town Rugby Tournament before wrapping up the season with matches against the Misfits (at Wagner) and at Grand Junction.
The 50th annual Aspen Ruggerfest rugby tournament is scheduled for Sept. 14 to 17.
“I’m really happy with how everything is going,” Herborn said. “It’s really come together now. All the hard work and collective effort is resulting in some really good performances.”
Herborn said on Wednesday evening he expects the team to play Saturday’s match with Steamboat at Rio Grande Park in Aspen. They are still hoping it can be played at Wagner, but it seemed unlikely the field would be ready for play by Saturday.
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Those opting for the spring, like Aspen and Basalt, will begin football practice Feb. 25 and start playing games March 11.