Seedings aside, Vail heads to Ski Town Tournament
Aspen and Vail have met in the Ski Town Rugby Tournament finals for six-consecutive years.
So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that, at this year’s Ski Town gathering at Glenwood Springs Saturday and Sunday, Aspen is seeded third and Vail fourth, according to Vail RFC president Scott Marino.
“We should be 1-2 in the Ski Town Tournament,” he said. “Generally, the rules of the Ski Town Tournament say that the tournament is for Ski Town teams and Glenwood invited two non-Ski Town teams. It’s no big deal. More competition should be fun, but it’s a little more motivation.”
The two non-Ski Town teams are the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union (ERRFU) Selects and the Denver Harlequins. Give No. 1 ERRFU its due. The Union should field a strong side.
The Harlequins, on the other hand present a puzzling question. The last time Vail and Denver met in 2001, the Blue and White thrashed the Harlequins, 57-7. And, although its not a popular opinion in Vail, how can Aspen be rated anything but No. 1 in a mountain tournament, until another side proves otherwise?
This year’s 10-team field is split into two pools. Vail, Glenwood, ERRFU, Park City, Utah, and Steamboat. The other side of the bracket contains Aspen, Breckenridge, the Harlequins, Santa Fe, N.M. and Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Pool play starts at 10 a.m., Saturday. Sunday, the winners of each pool play for the Ski Town title, while the second-place finishers play for third place.
Vail enters the tournament with a 3-1 record, coming off a competitive 30-22 loss to Aspen two weeks ago. In that game, Vail was down 22-5, but came back to tie it at the half.
On Saturday, Vail will play four, 40-minute games. So, the key to this weekend’s action, Marino says, is avoiding injuries on Saturday.
“Injuries. If we don’t get them, we’ll make (the finals). We’re bringing 20-22 players and we have to play 15’s four times in one day. It’s a matter of rotating players and keeping our key players healthy throughout.”
As for the seedings, the Blue and White is throwing them out the window. It’s safe to say that the goal for Vail is to take on Aspen Sunday in the finals.
“We definitely want to play them again,” Vail vet Brian Dalrymple said. “We played them well. Did we deserve to win? Maybe not. We conceded some penalties in the second half and we had some fitness issues, but we’re improving on that. Maybe catching them away from home will give us an edge. Who knows?”
Lineouts: What we do know is that the club will be honoring the Class of 2003 to the Vail Rugby Hall of Fame, Friday, July 25 at the Vail Cascade Club from 6:30-10 p.m. Bill “Brownie” Brown will be the emcee for the event, which means there’s no chance of the event ending before the flakes start to fall. But it should be a very good time. Brown and company will be roasting Piet Pieters and Jerry Stevens as well as inducting Tom Whitehead posthumously. As a sidenote, the author wouldn’t mind getting his fair share of time to roast Pieters. Tickets to the event are $55, which includes, dinner, free beer (only two kegs, guys – get there early) and wine and a cash bar. Call Dalrymple for more information at 390-6533. … The Ski Town Tournament was set to return to Vail in 2004, but with Jackson Hole having travelled to this event for seven years now, the Blue and White have deferred to its Wyoming rivals. Jackson Hole hosts next year, while Vail will stage the tournament in 2005.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.