Aspen, Vail meet again in finals |

Aspen, Vail meet again in finals

Preston Utley/Vail DailyVail's Paul Hoover, center, pushes his way through the defense of Santa Fe Saturday at the Ski Town Rugby Tournament in Vail. The Vail RFC faces Aspen in the final today at Vail Athletic Field.

VAIL – In a common development as seeing a tourist shopping in local supermarket in a fur coat in the winter or an afternoon thunderstorm in the summer or two feet of snow on the weekend Vail Mountain closes, Aspen and Vail will meet in today’s final of the Ski Town Rugby Tournament at 1 p.m. at the Vail Athletic Field.While the Gents do have some players out at a 7’s tournament, Aspen looked just as potent as ever, crushing Breckenridge, 56-0, and smashing Glenwood, 64-0, to make the title match. In the Blue and White’s side of the bracket Jackson Hole, Wyo., was a no show, turning the day into a three-team round robin. Vail swept through nicely with a 29-5 win over Steamboat and a 21-3 victory against Santa Fe, N.M. “I think we played well in parts,” Vail coach Steph Blair said. “We seemed to play well in first halves of games and then fell a wee bit when we got the scores together. But we did the job we had to do to get to the final. That was the important thing. … Now we have to finish the job tomorrow.”‘It wasn’t too bad’Vail made its date with Aspen with a late-afternoon win against Santa Fe. The Blue and White’s Brian Dalrymple capped a multi-phase march by tumbling down over the line and converting his own try for a 7-0 lead.”I ran through the middle, put the ball back, got back onto my feet and the ball was just there again,” Dalrymple, aka Bubba, said. “I saw the try line and I dove for it, but the guy who tackled me yanked down on my leg, so I felt my knee pop a little bit. I got it taped up. I think it’s more in my head than anything else.”Though Santa Fe’s Cory Micander gave his team three points on a penalty, Vail was the one getting into the mind of its opponent. Greg Tarpey fed Paul Hoover for a try dash and the latter got walloped by a Santa Fe player for his troubles.

Tom Vallentine rolled in late in the second half as a much-welcomed rain began to fall.”It wasn’t too bad, just the space opened up,” Vallentine said. “I had to beat one man. It happens from time to time.”‘The lungs are bursting’Vail had no problem in its second meeting of the season with Steamboat earlier in the day. Brandon McDonald stole a lineout which went to Tarpey. Dalrymple ended up doing the honors. Nick Harding to McDonald made it 12-0.A try from prop Will Mansour gave the Blue and White 17-0 advantage at the half. That was a rare moment of action against Steamboat for Mansour who ended up having to go the hospital to get stitches for a cut above his left eye before returning for the Santa Fe Game.With Mansour out, Blair took to the pitch in his place.”I enjoyed my 20 minutes as well. It was pretty good,” Blair said. “The lungs are bursting with the altitude. I certainly enjoyed running with the guys. The guys seemed to enjoy having me in there.”Matt Walsh had a great block of Steamboat boot deep in the visitors’ end. That set up a nifty try form Brighton Khumalo. Tarpey later scampered in from 22 meters for a 29-0 lead. Steamboat’s Michael Hurley broke up the shutout with a try late.

The finalWhile pleased to be in the finals, Vail knows that it must improve its play to have a shot at Aspen. The Gents dominated the Blue and White earlier this month in Pitkin County, 31-5.”We can definitely step up again tomorrow against Aspen,” Vallentine said. “… Playing Aspen at home is motivation in itself. You can’t get more motivated than that.”Vail must keep the play bottled up in the middle of the pitch. Teams which allow Aspen’s explosive backs to get outside pay the price. Another issue will be the 50/50 balls.”We did it well last week against Breckenridge,” Dalrymple said. “When somebody gets tackled, they instantly look up to make the pass from the ground, or if someone is about ready to get tackled, they unload the ball to somebody in support. We need to have men in support and we have to have men make the pass. That’s what Aspen does and they do it very well.”Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via

Saturday’s Games Bracket ARound robinSanta Fe 17, Steamboat 3Vail 29, Steamboat 5Vail 21, Santa Fe 3Bracket BChampionship bracketAspen 56, Breckenridge 0

Glenwood 7, Missoula 5Aspen 64, Glenwood 0Consolation bracketMissoula 20, Breckenridge 3Sunday’s GamesFifth place game, Missoula vs. Steamboat, 11 a.m.Third-place game, Glenwood vs. Santa Fe, NoonChampionship, Vail vs. Aspen, 1 p.m.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism