Cowpie Classic returns for the 45th year, bringing hundreds to Steamboat Springs |

Cowpie Classic returns for the 45th year, bringing hundreds to Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Fighting Bull Trout rugby player Jacob Warden charges up the field during the 2018 Cowpie Classic.
Matt Stensland

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For the 45th year in a row, dozens of rugby teams from all over Colorado and beyond will gather in Steamboat Springs, all fighting for one thing: a pile of poop. 

The tournament doesn’t have a cash prize, but it does offer an encased cow pie to the winning team. 

“They got a dry one and just nailed it to a board and said, ‘Cowpie Champions,’” Steamboat Springs men’s rugby coach Julian Bristow said. “It’s a dried old poo, but we stick it in like a shadow box, and we got a bronze little label that will say who the champion is. It looks great. People come from near and far just to win a cow pie.”

The battle for the bull dung begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, July 13, at Ski Town Fields, with the championship match taking place at 6:45 p.m.

“It’s the biggest event on Steamboat Rugby’s calendar. To bring 20 teams to Steamboat, you look at each team, a minimum of 30 players,” Bristow said. “So, that’s 600 rugby players in town this weekend, not to mention their better halves, their kids, etc. It’s a big event for the town.”

The games begin so early Saturday, players arrive Friday. Due to the toga party Saturday evening at Sunpie’s Bistro, players remain in town until at least Sunday, filling area hotels. 

Both the Steamboat Springs Fighting Bull Trout will play in the men’s division and Charging Heifers will participate in the women’s division. For those older than 40 who still love the game, there is an “Old Boys Game.”

“They get to strap the boots on again and relive their glory days,” Bristow said. 

If you go

What: 45th annual Cowpie Classic rugby tournament featuring 20 teams with men’s, women’s and “old boys” games.
When: 8 a.m. Saturday, July 13
Where: Ski Town Fields, 2400 Pine Grove Road
Cost: Free

The Steamboat Springs women’s rugby team opens the day with an 8 a.m. matchup against Boulder while the men will face Rio Grande at the same time. At 10:30 a.m., the Charging Heifers — Steamboat’s women’s rugby team — will take on Ronin before the Steamboat men take on Breckenridge at 12:10 p.m. 

“It’s the only time that the women play in Steamboat all summer,” Charging Heifers president Sarah Tiedeken-O’Brien said. 

The women’s championship is scheduled for 5:10 p.m., with the men’s final closing out the evening. 

“By the time the final happens, both sidelines will be full and both end goals will have people with their chairs and picnics watching it,” Bristow said. “We get a huge crowd.”

In addition to hosting 20 teams, the Cowpie Classic will also feature a beer garden with music. The tournament has 30 kegs to go through, selling $2 beers. The event is also catered, so the beverages don’t hit an empty stomach.

“Cowpie always gets a fun crowd,” Tiedeken-O’Brien said. “You get your friends, and I think there’s a substantial amount of people who go every year because it’s a really fun time. Then they’ll be the random people who are walking by and sort of intrigued and decide to stop and watch. It’s kind of a fun, mixed bag of people.”

While the men’s team began the tournament 45 years ago, the women have only been participating since the team’s inception eight years ago. This year, the tournament will feature five women’s teams including Vail, which is in its inaugural summer season. 

“I think women’s rugby is growing a ton. I think generally across the nation rugby is growing and that definitely applies to women’s rugby,” Tiedeken-O’Brien said. “You know, Vail, this is their first year that they’ve ever had a women’s team. That’s really exciting for the mountain region to have another women’s team. The past eight years, there haven’t been any other women’s teams in the Colorado mountain region. It’s definitely exciting to see that get added.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

Cowpie Classic Schedule

Field 1
8 a.m. Steamboat v. Rio
8:50 a.m. Vail v. Wyoming
9:40 a.m. Aspen v. Boulder
10:30 a.m. Steamboat women v. Ronin
11:20 a.m. Rio Grande vs. CO All-Stars
12:10 p.m. Steamboat v Breckenridge
1 p.m. Boulder v. Queen City
1:50 p.m Highlanders v. CO All-Stars
2:40 p.m. Wyoming OBs vs. Boulder OBs
3:30 p.m. Pool A 1 v. 4
4:20 p.m. Pool A 3 v. 2
5:10 p.m. Women’s championship
5:30 p.m. Pool A semifinal
6:45 p.m. Men’s championship

Field 2
8 a.m. Steamboat women v. Boulder
8:50 a.m. Vail Women v. Ronin
9:40 a.m. Highlanders v. Breckenridge
10:30 a.m. Vail. v. Queen City
11:20 a.m. Boulder women v. Platapussies
12:10 p.m. Aspen v. Wyoming
1 p.m. Vail women v. Platapussies
2:40 p.m. Womens 3rd v. 4th
3:30 p.m. Pool B 1v. 4
4:20 p.m. Pool B 3 v. 2
5:10 p.m. Mass Zulu Warrior Charge
5:30 p.m. Pool B semifinal

Pool A
Rio Grande
Colorado All-Stars

Pool B
Queen City


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