Gents hope to put together women’s rugby team for Ruggerfest
Saskia Meagher is ready to represent Aspen in rugby if called upon. To get that opportunity, she’s going to need a few more women to want the same.
“Maybe there just aren’t as many girls who know about it,” Meagher said. “There are more girls out here that would want to do it if they knew.”
Meagher, a native Australian who moved to Aspen within the past year, grew up playing rugby in some form. She’s one of a handful of women who have become regular faces each Wednesday evening when the crew gets together for some mixed touch rugby on either Wagner or Rio Grande Park.
While getting more women involved in the local rugby scene on a casual basis is a goal, there also is a bigger endgame in mind. Led by a few members of the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club, the hope is to get enough women interested to form a women’s team for September’s annual Ruggerfest tournament in Aspen.
It is believed Aspen has never formed an official women’s team for the popular fall event.
“If we can get more women involved in the game as well, it’s great for the community and it’s better for the club,” said Ayden Holmes, who manages the prospective women’s team alongside coach Darren Barth. “If we can get a good backbone of ladies moving forward, that would be great.”
The women’s tournament is played 10 players per side, meaning Aspen would need at least a solid roster of 15 to form a team. The team’s organizers believe there shouldn’t be a problem reaching that number, considering Aspen’s abundance of athletes, and aren’t asking for experienced players.
Part of Wednesday’s weekly co-ed touch rugby sessions are to teach the game to newcomers without the fear of being trampled.
“Because everyone is on that same page of being a beginner, it kind of takes the intimidating level out of it. It’s a pretty all-levels sport,” Meagher said. “It’s super exciting. It’s cool to be able to have a women’s sport here and highlight the sport accomplishments of women, as well.”
Interested players — men and women — are encouraged to stop by at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays to learn the game. They plan to continue the touch rugby sessions until Ruggerfest, if not beyond, weather depending. On top of the Gents normal Facebook page, there is another for the Wednesday socials, found by searching “Aspen mixed touch rugby.”
Holmes says you can call him at 970-456-7448 to inquire about being part of the Aspen Ruggerfest women’s team.
Ruggerfest, which will be held Sept. 14 to 17, is celebrating its 50th year.
“Yeah, I think I’d play. I don’t know how well I’d play, but I’d play,” Meagher said. “Skill wise, it’s not crazy. You can just run and catch.”
Gents to host Misfits on Saturday in final home game
And just like that, it’s senior day for the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club.
The Gents will host Misfits Rugby at 1 p.m. Saturday at Wagner Rugby Stadium, their final home match of the summer. They won’t compete on their home field again after this weekend until Ruggerfest in September.
The Misfits are based out of the Front Range but feature players from across the nation, if not the world, with an ever-changing roster. The Gents beat the Misfits 59-36 on July 1 in Aspen, and again beat them last weekend in the championship match of the Ski Town Classic in Steamboat Springs.
“I think there will maybe be two familiar faces and about 20 new characters we haven’t seen play for the Misfits so far this year,” Aspen coach Will Herborn said about playing the Misfits again. “We’ve worked out a game plan to how they play, so it should be a pretty good exhibition Saturday for people to be able to come and watch rugby.”
The Gents have been particularly dominant as of late, going 4-0 at Ski Town only two weeks removed from also going undefeated en route to the Cowpie Classic title, also played in Steamboat Springs.
“It’s just nonstop at the moment, win after win. It really clicked on Saturday,” Herborn said. “It was a really good day of rugby for us. Easily the best we’ve played.”
There is no cost to watch Saturday’s game in Aspen. The Gents have one more regular season match after this weekend, an Aug. 12 trip to Grand Junction.
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After mixed messages and increased pressure from coaches, players and parents, CHSAA said Wednesday the fall football season was back on, should schools choose to take part.