Vail men top Steamboat RFC in Cow Pie semis
Steamboat Springs — The men’s rivalry between the Steamboat Springs Rugby Football Club and Vail RFC has already peaked, said Steamboat RFC coach Julian Bristow. Still, a little referee-fueled, end-of-game controversy can’t be a bad thing to add to the mix.
“Vail and Steamboat have a wonderful rivalry. No ones gives an inch. It’s been building over years, and it’s just fantastic,” Bristow said. “Nothing could intensify it more. It’s really 100 percent full on. They got away with it. We smashed them a couple of times last year, and they came back and got one over us today.”
The first meeting of the season between Vail and Steamboat came Saturday in the semifinals of the 41st annual Cow Pie Classic, played at the Ski Town Fields in Steamboat Springs. And with time running out in the second half, all Steamboat had to do was hold on a little longer to advance to its second straight Cow Pie Classic championship match.
Instead, the match ended in bizarre fashion after Steamboat was called for a penalty on a scrum and Vail converted its penalty try after full time to escape with the 7-5 victory.
“The fact they collapsed the scrum and got awarded a penalty try after full time is absurd,” Bristow said. “There was no reason why the referee could not reset, because that was the first engagement of that play. If it collapses, guess what? You reset and go again.”
Two years ago, it was Vail that knocked Steamboat out in the Cow Pie Classic semifinals, ending Steamboat’s long streak of championships. Steamboat RFC responded by winning last year’s Classic but could do nothing more than sit and watch this year as Vail went on to defeat Boulder in the championship game.
Despite the loss, there wasn’t a lot for Steamboat RFC to be disappointed in. It opened the tournament with a 23-0 win over Glenwood Springs and pulled out a tough-fought 12-10 win over New Mexico before the semifinal defeat.
“We played outstanding that game. There really isn’t anywhere we could improve more,” Steamboat RFC captain Jason Troyer said of the Vail match. “The intensity was all there. We were doing a great job. I’m really proud of my boys. It sucks that we didn’t get the win.”
Steamboat RFC, now 3-1 this summer, will get another chance at their rival when the teams meet Aug. 15 in Vail.
Steamboat women take big step
Now in its fourth year, the Steamboat women’s RFC might have taken its biggest steps toward legitimacy Saturday after going 2-1 and taking third in the Cow Pie Classic.
“This is four years in the making. We have a club and a competitive club, so that’s very cool,” Steamboat RFC player Heather Biewick said. “I think the teams we played now see us as a serious competitor and will think of us when they are having other tournaments or competitions, and they are going to want to obviously come up to Steamboat again.”
Facing the largest women’s field the Classic has ever seen, Steamboat RFC proved to many it’s no longer a program in its infancy. Steamboat opened the six-team tournament with a 17-7 win over Colorado Springs before falling to the Salt Lake City Vipers “A” team, 38-5. The Vipers, one of the region’s most established and impressive women’s rugby programs, went on to defeat Colorado Mesa University’s club team in the championship game.
The highlight of Steamboat RFC’s day came in its final game, a shutout victory over the Vipers’ “B” team. After getting shut out in the first half, the Vipers opted to sub in some of their “A” team players for the second half. Despite the influx of talent, Steamboat RFC held on to preserve the shutout and earn one of the biggest wins in club history.
“It was exciting to play a competitive team and match their skills. It was very exciting. A huge, huge success for us,” Biewick said. “Each year we are at the tournament, our skills improve. This is everyone’s opportunity to see what we’ve been doing … we are definitely building a foundation of people that are going to continue to return to play every year.”
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