Rugby: Junior Gents fall in state title game
The Aspen Times
The Junior Gents ran into a wall last weekend in the state championship rugby game.
Attempting to win back-to-back state titles in Colorado prep Division II rugby, the Junior Gents lost a 31-3 decision to powerhouse PAC in front of a large crowd at the Infinity Rugby Stadium in Glendale.
The Junior Gents, including high school players from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, kicked off to start the game.
Robert Hiles reclaimed the ball in midair.
But PAC immediately took control.
“PAC smashed at the line for 10 minutes, but resolute defense limited the PAC team to a penalty (goal),” Junior Gents head coach Gary Williams said. “Again PAC pressure the Gents’ line and ultimately scored on a kick-and-chase to go ahead 8-0 midway through the first half.”
The Junior Gents, affiliated with the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby club, ran hard into the PAC defense.
“But the ball was too often taken standing still,” Williams said, adding that the Junior Gents “usually hard-charging forwards were strangely flat-footed on the day.”
He said Hiles kicked a penalty goal to cut the PAC lead to 8-3 at halftime.
“The halftime whistle could not come soon enough for a strangely disjointed Junior Gents team,” Williams said.
The second half magnified the problems for the local ruggers.
“The second half collapse by the Junior Gents against a good, well-drilled PAC team will hopefully provide good lessons on how to better react in such cauldrons in the future,” Williams said after PAC scored 23 consecutive second-half points.
He said the team played with great effort, particularly Hiles, Felipe Martinez, Matt Ferguson and Jake Gentry.
Gentry will be the team captain next season.
“The loss of inspirational skipper, Matt Williams, for disciplinarian reasons further compounded the problems,” Gary Williams said.
“The final score of 31-3 was a reflection of PAC’s eventual dominance and the poor use of possession by the Junior Gents.
“A single game does not define a season and the players, coaches and parents know how well the 23 players of the Junior Gents have represented their families, schools and communities all year,” Gary Williams said.
“The Junior Gents will have plenty of opportunity to put this loss behind them as many prepare for all-star games and more summer season rugby in Aspen and Willits.”
Matt Williams, an All-American high school rugby player, will play at UCLA next year.
Matt Ferguson will play rugby at Dartmouth next season.
And Felipe Martinez will play at DU.
Ten players from the current team will return for next season, Williams said.
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