Rugby: Aspen Gents vs. Denver Barbarians |

Rugby: Aspen Gents vs. Denver Barbarians

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Luke Prosence of the Gentlemen of Aspen bulls ahead against Breckenridge last weekend.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times |

After the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby club overpowered the visiting Blue Goose club from Breckenridge last weekend, they gathered for a team huddle.

But the victory celebration was sweet and short.

Almost immediately, head coach Cameron McIntyre delivered sobering news to the festive Gents:

Get ready

Denver Barbarians

Fourth of July game

Huge rugby rivalry

Huge crowd expected

“The Barbos are always a strong team,” McIntyre said of Saturday’s Fourth of July rivalry game — a rugby holiday tradition in Aspen that dates nearly 50 years. “They are one of the premier teams in the country. They are perennial high-level achievers.”

He said the deep Barbarian club traditionally brings a strong squad to Aspen for the Fourth of July showcase game.

“This year, the Barbos went to the final of Division II. Other years, they’ve won Division I,” McIntyre said of the Denver Barbarians’ national pedigree.

“And we know from over the years at Ruggerfest … they’ve won Ruggerfest how many times,” said McIntyre, a former standout player with the Gents’ national championship teams.

He said that playing rugby in Aspen on the Fourth of July is a rare treat in American rugby.

“To play a team of a caliber like the Barbos, with a Fourth of July crowd, it’s a special feeling for a rugby player,” McIntyre said. “It’s as rewarding an experience as you can get in American rugby.”

Saturday’s rivalry game is set for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

But the location of the game remains to be determined.

Gents’ officials hope to play at Wagner Park. They are awaiting clearance from city officials before they came play at Wagner.

If Wagner is not open for rugby Saturday, the game will be played at Rio Grande Field — when the Gents improved to 2-0 on the season last weekend with a 72-5 win over Breckenridge. The Gents won at Defiance in Glenwood Springs in the season opener three weeks ago.

First-year Gents player Mackey Hirsch, for one, is more than excited about Saturday’s rugby showdown against the Denver Barbarians.

“I’m stoked for that game,” Hirsch said. “I’ve got a lot of friends coming in. I’ve been waiting for this. It will be the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of.”

Hirsch, a senior at Louisiana State University, came to Aspen for summer rugby. He intends to return to Aspen after he completes one more semester at LSU.

Playing for a club like the Gentlemen of Aspen and playing in a Fourth of July showcase game against the Denver Barbarians are two of the reasons Hirsch cited for his desire to play Aspen rugby.

Gents’ officials said they will announce the game location as soon as it is official.

The Gents of Aspen will hit the road next for the July 11 Cowpie Classic Rugby Tournament in Steamboat Springs.

Aspen will host the Grand Junction Griffins on July 18.