Gentlemen’s 7s team qualifies for Westerns

Aspen Times Staff Report

The Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Football Club’s 7s team earned a spot in the Western 7s Championships next month in Fort Worth, Texas.

Aspen, fielding a 7s side for a second-straight year after a long hiatus, dominated the Austin Huns hosted “Bloodfest 7s Tournament” last Saturday in Texas to earn the berth.

Between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, the Gents played seven games of 7s, and won all seven. In the final, Aspen blew out Houston by 30-plus points.

At the Western 7s Championships on July 19, the top two teams advance to the National 7s Championships slated for Aug. 9 in Pittsburgh. Last year, Aspen advanced to the 16-team national tourney, and lost in the round of eight.

“The difference between this year and last year is that we have much more speed all around, and more experience, and that’s going to be an asset for us,” said Andy Kotoa, captain of the Gents 7s side. “And if we keep our heads right, stay focused and work hard, good things will continue to happen.”

On Saturday, the Gents 7s team travels to Denver for another qualifying tournament for the Western 7s Championship.

“We want to work on different combinations of players and get more experience together,” Kotoa said. “The more games we get, the better we’ll be.”

An exhausting brand of rugby, 7s is played on a regular-size field. However, instead of 15 players per side, there are only seven, and instead of a 40-minute half, it’s a seven-minute half. Standard rules otherwise apply.

Aspen’s 7s side features several standouts from its regular team, including Isaac Mbereko, David Yavala, Rata Going, Tasi Mounga, Gerhard Klerck, Karl Siteine, Richard Dwyer, Travis Butler, Rod Guillotta, Tyson Meeks and Roger Gassett.