Gents win Ski Town; advance to 7s Nationals |

Gents win Ski Town; advance to 7s Nationals

In 100-plus degree heat in Glenwood Springs and Fort Worth, Texas, two Gentlemen of Aspen teams endured and then some.

At the annual Ski Town Tournament, hosted this year by the Glenwood Defiance Rugby Club at the Spring Valley Campus of Colorado Mountain College, the Gents’ summer league side beat Vail 33-8 for the championship Sunday afternoon.

Back Simon Dogbe powered the Gents machine to three wins on Saturday and scored two tries in the title match. “My player of the tournament,” said Lance Sigley, Aspen’s summer league coach.

The Glenwood Defiance celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a “fantastic tournament,” Sigley said, and advanced t0o the consolation championship Sunday against the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union (ERRFU) select side. Defiance won 28-10.

Meanwhile, at the Western 7s Championship in Texas Saturday, Aspen’s 7s side lost in the final to the Denver Barbarians 21-12, but still secured a berth to the National 7s Championship next month in Pittsburgh by finishing second.

“And then we got back in time to come down and watch the boys win Ski Town,” said Fred Waititi, the Aspen 7s coach. “That’s a good weekend.”

Ski Town supremacy

Coming off a pedestrian 1-1-1 showing at the annual Cow Pie Classic Tournament in Steamboat Springs the week before, the Gents’ summer-leaguers entered the 20-something annual Ski Town tourney far from a lock to win.

“Basically what we did is come together as a team, and we needed the earlier games, a few setbacks, to do that,” said Sigley.

“Now we can start enjoying our rugby.”

Temperatures hit 104 degrees on Saturday at CMC Spring Valley, Sigley said, and the ten teams in attendance played at least three games apiece. Aspen opened with a 36-0 win over a combined Jackson Hole/Park City team, then topped ERRFU 48-5 to advance to the semifinals against the Denver Harlequins. In a shortened match, Aspen won 33-0 to advance to Sunday’s final against Vail, which advanced from the other side of the bracket at 3-0, too.

In Sunday’s final, Aspen led 17-3 at the half and only allowed one try throughout in the 33-8 victory. Aspen’s Justin Stencil, Wayne Lister-James, Dogbe (2) and Greg Pargee scored tries for Aspen, and Pargee booted four 2-point conversions.

“Considering the scrappy matches we’ve had against [Vail], it wasn’t too bad,” said Sigley. “We played a wide-open game.”

The win marks Aspen’s 14th consecutive Ski Town title.

Fort worthy

In the Lone Star State, a squad of about a dozen Gents battled through intense heat, and competition, Saturday at the Western 7s Championship in Fort Worth.

All eight teams in attendance qualified by winning a regional tournament (in Aspen’s case, the Austin Bloodfest 7s in June), and only two would emerge from the day with berths to the 16-team National 7s Championship.

In preliminary matches for the championship, Aspen beat San Antonio, Boulder, Houston and Austin to earn a spot in the final later that day against the Denver Barbarians.

However, by advancing to the final match, both Aspen and the Barbos secured slots at the national tourney no matter the outcome of the final.

“We went all out getting there to make sure we qualified, and then the final was a bonus – that was the thinking,” said coach Waititi. “But when we got [to the final], we decided we’d make as good an attempt at winning it as we could because the last time we played the Barbos, they gave us a good ol’ fashioned hiding.”

Aspen closed the gap this time, but the Barbos still won 21-12.

“This was our opportunity to see how much progress we’d made, and we were much closer to them. We had our chances, and we had a couple of tries disallowed,” said Waititi. “And considering we were without Ryan Smythe and Isaac Mbereko, guys who have been pretty key to our team up till now, we were pretty happy with the result.”

David Yavala, Tyson Meek and Rata Going were exceptional for Aspen, Waititi said.

Aspen will be the No. 6 seed (of 16) at the Aug. 9 National 7s Championship, just behind the Barbos at No. 5, Waititi said.

Aspen’s summer league team, meanwhile, travels to Colorado Springs on Saturday for its next match.

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