Glory days again for Gents of Aspen
The Aspen Times
The Gentlemen of Aspen are bringing back the glory days at Ruggerfest 2013.
Specifically, the Gents Over 35 team is trying to turn back the proverbial clock.
But it took a fullback on his honeymoon to save some glory for the Gents late Friday afternoon at Wagner Rugby Stadium.
Locked in a back-and-forth pool-play elimination game against the Virginia Cardinals, the Gents 35s seemingly lost their chance to advance to Sunday’s championship when Paul Holmes, of the Cardinals, drilled a penalty goal from 35-meters out — a booming kick from the former South African standout.
The 3 points broke a 12-12 tie, giving Virginia a 15-12 lead with 5 minutes to play.
But in a length-of-the-field counterattack, the Gents 35s looked like the Aspen glory teams of a decade ago that won national championships and stockpiled Ruggerfest titles.
Michael Hurley, a Gents 35s player who had spent seven seasons laboring for Aspen’s Open Division side, cut past the last Cardinals’ defender and scored, under the post, to give Aspen a 17-15 lead with 2:00 to play. Hayden Mexted added the two-point conversion for Aspen’s 19-15 final margin of victory.
“You know you’ve married the right woman when you get two days from the honeymoon … to play in Ruggerfest,” said Hurley, a native of Brisbane, Australia, who helped the Gentlemen of Aspen win a national title four years ago. He was married last weekend in Steamboat Springs.
“These are all my best buds,” said Hurley, who will join his mates in the Over 35 title game Sunday against the Richmond Heavies, from Great Britain.
The Aspen 35s scored dominating wins earlier Saturday over Boulder and the Clowns with a roster peppered with standouts from the Gents national championship squads — Brian Hightower, Mark Williams, Chris Morrow, Simon Dogbe, Greg Tarpley and Aspen native Alec Parker, among others.
The 46th annual Aspen Ruggerfest will continue today with Open Division matches at Wagner and Rio Grande Park, starting at 9 a.m.
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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