Vail rugby takes Cowpie title in Steamboat; Aspen is up next
VAIL — One down, two to go?
The Vail Rugby Football Club took care of step No. 1 of the summer rugby scene’s triple by winning last weekend’s Cowpie tournament in Steamboat Springs.
The Blue and White finished with a 17-10 victory over the hosts in the final.
That’s got to be a big boost for the local 15 as they enter the meat of their schedule with their annual fixture against Aspen on Saturday, July 14, at 1 p.m., at the Vail Athletic Field, followed by the Ski Town Tournament in Aspen next weekend.
The triple is winning Cowpie, Ski Town and the Mountain League all in one summer. Only two sides — Vail in 2015 and Aspen in 2017 — have won the triple, which adds import to Saturday’s renewal of the rivalry, as if it needed any.
When a rugby club hosts a tournament, it does two things — gives itself the easiest draw to the final and tries to get all comers riotously drunk the night before the games.
Thus Vail had an 8 a.m. game against Wyoming to start Cowpie.
“We take that as a compliment rather than an annoyance,” Vail club President Chris Chantler said. “That shows that they believe (a tough draw) is the only way to beat us.”
And while Vail’s lads do like a frosty cold one, the club has a greater purpose this season. With Major League Rugby having just finished its inaugural season, Vail is packing its roster with collegiate players working on developing their skills with the new league in mind.
Thus, the Blue and White stayed away from temptation and bulldozed its way to a 24-0 lead on the way to a 31-10 opening win.
Vail won its pool by taking care of Echo Mountain, a Denver-based side, 17-12. In the quarterfinals, the Blue and White advanced easily, dispatching Jackson Hole, Wyoming, followed by a 22-14 victory over Boulder.
That set up the final against Steamboat, and a well-earned Cowpie title. As a side note, the trophy is not an actual cow pie, and all involved are grateful.
HERE COME THE GENTS
While Steamboat is always a player in the Mountain League table, the circuit usually comes down to Vail and Aspen, which makes this weekend’s match loom large.
To get “Aspen Week” started, Vail hosted a barbecue on Wednesday, an event that involved everyone from the current squad to old boys, alumni of the club, as well as the Bulldogs, a 7s program coached by Vail alumnus Steve Lewis.
While the match at 1 p.m. Saturday headlines the day, the team will be holding a touch rugby match for its youth program at noon.
“For me, Aspen is the one,” Chantler said. “We have an awful lot of respect for Aspen and nothing gives me more pleasure than when we can come out on top against them.”
Aspen did not compete in Cowpie last weekend because of injuries.
A local kid got on the X Games Aspen podium on Sunday night, but it wasn’t the one most people expected. Even Jon Sallinen didn’t think he’d be taking home a medal.