Steamboat Rugby Club looks to Ski Town

After loss at Cow Pie, club hopes for win in Wyoming

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— The season is far from a wash for the Steamboat Springs Rugby Club, and now there is an opportunity for redemption.

Steamboat leaves today for the Ski Town Rugby Tour­nament in Jackson Hole, Wyo. There the green and orange will compete against seven of the top ski town rugby clubs in the region.

And coming off a loss in the semifinals two weeks ago in the Cow Pie Classic — Steamboat’s first loss in the tournament in three years — Saturday’s tournament is about redemption.

“We’re going to win it — no exceptions,” Steamboat captain Michael Hurley said. “We dropped the Cow Pie, and it wasn’t our day. We had a few things go against us. But we’re still the three-time defending champions. We have all our starters back, and we’re at full strength. We have one thing in mind.”

As in the Cow Pie, Steamboat enters the Ski Town having won the past three times.

The tournament will be played Saturday. The teams are broken into two pools of four teams. The top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinal round.

Vail, who won the Cow Pie, is expected to be strong, as is Missoula, Mont., and Park City, Utah, the team Steamboat beat in last year’s final.

“For us, I think it’s a big tournament,” Steamboat player Robbie Shine said. “Maybe not for everyone else, but this is a personal thing to say we’re still on top of mountain rugby and rugby in ski towns.”

Steamboat, coming off a 55-35 win against Breckenridge last weekend, still is in the mix for the Mountain League crown, as well.

That could come down to a July 31 game against Vail in Steamboat.

But for now, the focus is on Saturday’s tournament and re-establishing Steamboat as the premier ski town rugby club.

Hurley and Shine said the key to the tournament is to focus on defense and continue to play the wide-open sort of rugby Steamboat has become known for.

“We have to build on what we did last week,” Hurley said. “Our attack takes care of itself, and we always score points. It’s whether we can keep them out. No. 2 is having a bit of luck and getting the boys and the troops through the day.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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