Vail continues streak against Breck
VAIL ” The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Not since the Ski Town Tournament in Park City, Utah, in 1996 has Breckenridge rugby defeated Vail. And despite a sluggish start Saturday at the Vail Athletic Field, Vail’s success against its Shrine Pass rivals continued with a 43-18 win.
“We always start slow against Breckenridge,” said Blue and White back Tom Vallentine. “It always takes us a little while to find out what they’re going to be like and we’re going to use our strengths to our advantage. Once we find them out, we’re usually pretty good.”
That would certainly apply to Vallentine who set up two tries and had two of his own, keying the win. Vallentine was one of several backliners who stepped it up for Vail, compensating for a shaky front pack at times.
“Our backs showed what they are capable of,” Vail player/coach Steve MacKinnon said. “As far as unfortunate things go, the forward pack was wee bit weak. There’s always one aspect that’s not firing on all cylinders. We brought on Brian Peters and he settled the pack in the second half. It showed.”
As expected, Breckenridge came out well and dictated the play early. But as has been the case for the Goose all season, it couldn’t play the full 80 minutes.
“I thought for 60 minutes it was a rugby game,” Breckenridge coach Peter Shafroth said. “Twenty minutes to go, we’re just not fit enough to hang in there and that’s been our deal all season long. We’d played competitive against everybody ” two games against (Vail), and against Aspen at a tournament up in Steamboat.”
Breck’s Joe Pizzi staked his team to 3-0 lead on a penalty kick. Vail answered with a try by Ian Cropp. The Brown grad scampered down left side, set up by a nice feed from Vallentine.
“It’s nice to have a bit of youth and a bit of speed to work with,” Vallentine said.
Worrell booted the conversion and then fed captain Brandon McDonald for a 12-3 advantage.
Breck cut the lead to six at the half with another kick from Pizzi. Craig Cameron had the first try of the second half, but the Goose’s Jim Hoffman punched one in to make it 19-11.
Two straight tries from Vallentine settled the matter. Down 33-11, Pizzi scored the Goose’s final try. Worrell added a drop kick and Greg Tarpey finished it with a try.
While Breck has been battling fitness all year, it’s also an issue for Vail.
“All of rugby is about fitness,” MacKinnon said. “The boys are blowing in on Tuesday and Thursday. We had some guys back from vacation like Greg Tarpey. There’s still a lot more to come. Hopefully, we’ll do a better job next weekend.”
Next weekend is the annual Ski Town Tournament, and these two teams could well be facing each other again. Breckenridge is hosting for the first time since 2000.
“I think it’s a lot of fun,” Shafroth said. “I’m glad that I am just a coach this year, so all I have to do is worry about coaching. It’s a really fun weekend. I know that our club is really looking forward to hosting it. It’s, maybe to me, the most fun weekend. We’ve got 10 teams coming this year. I think there’s a lot of excitement for that.”
To make it to Sunday’s final at Kingdom Park (likely against Aspen), Vail will need to use its new-found depth.
“For sure, we’ve got a team that can win the tournament, despite Aspen and Steamboat and all that,” MacKinnon said. “We’ve definitely got the chance to win it. We do need guys so that we can rest people.”
In the interest of full disclosure, Cropp, Vail’s left wing, is a sports writer at the Daily. We at the Daily are thrilled that he did not sustain mortal injury, but think he should have scored a second try at the end of the first half. … Breckenridge last beat Vail, 29-12, in the 1996 Ski Town. Vail won the earlier meeting of the season between the two teams, 38-16. … Correction: After Vail blanking of Glenwood two weeks ago, the Daily reported that Vail’s Phil Bennett “chipped in two conversions.” Those chips were actually incredible feats of athleticism from the venerable Bennett, and those glories will be retold throughout history.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.