Full day of rugby ahead with Steamboat’s Cow Pie Classic | SteamboatToday.com

Full day of rugby ahead with Steamboat’s Cow Pie Classic

Luke Graham

— Each year of the Cow Pie Classic rugby tournament features something unique.

This year, the tournament's 38th, offers the largest and possibly deepest field in tournament history. 

The tournament begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Ski Town Fields next to the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. There will be play on two fields, every hour on the hour until 6 p.m. The tournament has 12 men's teams, four women's teams and five "old boys" teams.

"It's nonstop rugby action all day," Steamboat Rugby Club coach Julian Bristow said. 

Steamboat has won four of the past Cow Pie Classics. Vail, in 2010, was the only team to unseat Steamboat as champions of its marquee event. 

"Steamboat is the favorite," Bristow said. "We have home-field advantage. We've got a very strong team with deep numbers."

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Deep benches, and which team can stay best hydrated, usually are determining factors in one of Colorado's premier rugby tournaments. 

The field is as deep as ever, and with each team fielding ringers from across the globe, it could prove to be a battle of attrition. Teams possibly could play five games in the one-day affair. 

"It's managing the day," Bristow said. "It's going to be a very long, hard day for all the players."

The men's side has three pools of four teams each. The pool winners advance to the next round, and the fourth semifinal team will be decided by record, point differential and points scored in pool play. Games will feature two 20-minute halves. 

The Steamboat Men's Rugby Club begins at 8:50 a.m. against Jackson Hole, Wyo. Grand Junction and Santa Fe, N.M., make up the other teams in Steamboat's pool. 

In addition to Steamboat, Vail and Wyoming should be the top contenders. 

The most interesting team could be the Vandals Rugby Club out of Los Angeles. Led by Frank Baker, the team should be 30 deep and perhaps the best credentialed. It features accomplished centers Lawrence Tuihalamaka — whom Bristow called a future U.S. Team member— and Billy Coffey.

The Steamboat Women's Rugby Club will make its debut Saturday. The team has been practicing for months in preparation for the Cow Pie Classic. The squad has 16 players, many of whom will be playing competitively for the first time Saturday. 

"I didn't think it would actually happen," said Anne Zoltani, the women's club founder. "It was a pleasant surprise. I think the Steamboat team will be around for a while."

The women's team opens play at 10:30 a.m. against Boulder. The Steamboat "old boys" play at 11:20 a.m. against Boulder. 

Men's semifinals begin at 6 p.m. with the women's finals and consolations at 6:50 p.m. The men's final is slated for 7:30 p.m. 

In addition to the rugby, food and beverages will be available. Rugby Athletic will sell merchandise. 

Per tradition, a toga party will be at Sunpie's Bistro at 735 Yampa St. after the tournament.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

Cow Pie Classic schedule for Steamboat teams

All games Saturday

■ Steamboat men vs. Jackson Hole, 8:50 a.m.

■ Steamboat women vs. Boulder, 10:30 a.m.

■ Steamboat “old boys” vs. Boulder, 11:20 a.m.

■ Steamboat men vs. Grand Junction, 12:10 p.m

■ Steamboat women vs. Denver,

1 p.m.

■ Steamboat “old boys” vs. Denver, 2:40 p.m.

■ Steamboat men vs. Santa Fe, N.M., 4:20 p.m.

■ Semifinals at 6 p.m.

■ Women’s finals and consolation at 6:50 p.m.

■ Men’s final at 7:30 p.m.

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