From barn to beach, Gents open the season
In the horse barn known as the Cozy Point riding arena, the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club opened training for the season about six weeks ago.Over the weekend, the Gents emerged from esquestrian seclusion for their first on-field action, a tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Gents advanced to the finals of the five team premier division before losing to USA Rugby Super League rival New York Athletic Club 23-8.And now the start of the USA Rugby Super League season is three weeks away.”We literally came out of the barn,” said Gents coach Mick Melrose. “That was the first time we saw a rugby pitch.””I was happy with the way it worked out. I would’ve liked to have won it, but that’s the way it goes.”The Gents beat New York Old Blue, another Super League club, in the opening game, then tied 24-all the two-time defending USA Rugby Division I champion Boston Wolfhounds in the semifinals. The Gents advanced to the finals against NYAC on an obscure tie-breaker, a series of kicks, after the Wolfhounds contest remained tied after regulation and overtime.Then the Gents ran out of gas.”Our lack of preparation started to show up, but we also give New York a lot of credit. It wasn’t all our fault,” said Melrose.Melrose credited U.S. National Team player Albert Tuipolotu and U.S. Sevens player Justin Stencil with top performances. “Overall, everybody played pretty well. We’re just lacking a bit of teamwork at the moment,” he said.On March 19, the Gents face OMBAC (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club) in San Diego to open the USA Rugby Super League schedule. The Super League is the top division of rugby in the United States.This weekend, Aspen travels to Atlanta to play in a tournament that benefits Gents player Pat Culley, who was paralyzed during a match last year in Boston. The premier division will feature six Super League teams.”There’s some familiar faces in our lineup, but there’s also a few guys at the moment who are deciding if they have the time to play with family and work commitments,” said Melrose. “And we’ve got a couple guys in from different clubs. So it’s a new team and I won’t know where we’re at for a couple weeks, but I still think we’ll be pretty good.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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