Steamboat Rugby Club ready to defend Cow Pie Classic title | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Rugby Club ready to defend Cow Pie Classic title

Austin Colbert

The Steamboat Rugby Club will host its 41st annual Cowpie Classic on Saturday at the Ski Town Fields in Steamboat Springs. The tournament will feature 12 men's teams and an extended women's field

— This is a big weekend for the Steamboat Springs Rugby Club and its third-year captain, Jason Troyer. Not only does it mean the 41st annual Cow Pie Classic is here, it means Steamboat RFC will have a chance to once again defend a championship.

"This tournament, it's the highlight of my season, for sure. It's a ton of fun," Troyer said. "We are Steamboat. We are the defending champions. We do what we do."

Cow Pie Classic Schedule for Saturday, July 11

8 a.m.

Steamboat vs. Glenwood (north)

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Boulder 1 vs. Grand Junction (south)

8:50 a.m.

Vail vs. Provo (north)

Wyoming vs. Breckenridge (south)

9:40 a.m.

Women's Game 1 (north)

Women's Game 2 (south)

10:30 a.m.

Women's Game 4 (north)

Women's Game 3 (south)

11:20 a.m.

Old Boys game (north)

12:10 p.m.

Steamboat vs. New Mexico (north)

Grand Junction vs. Jackson (south)

1 p.m.

Vail vs. Boulder 2 (north)

Wyoming vs. Misfits (south)

1:50 p.m.

Glenwood vs. New Mexico (north)

Boulder 1 vs. Jackson (south)

2:40 p.m.

Women's Game 5 (north)

Women's Game 6 (south)

3:30 p.m.

Provo vs. Boulder 2 (north)

Breckenridge vs. Misfits (south)

4:20 p.m.

Men's Semifinal (north)

Men's Semifinal (south)

5:10 p.m.

Women's 5th & 6th (north)

Women's 3rd & 4th (south)

6 p.m.

Women's Final (north)

7 p.m.

Men's Final (north)

More often than not over the previous 41 years, Steamboat RFC has ended its own tournament on top. However, two years ago it lost to Vail in the semifinals, ending a long streak of titles. Then, in 2014, it responded by defeating the Misfits, an invitational team with players from all over the country, in the men's final to reclaim its crown.

Saturday morning, Steamboat RFC will begin its quest toward a second straight title when it kicks off the Cow Pie Classic at 8 a.m. against Glenwood Springs RFC on the north end of the Ski Town Fields in Steamboat Springs.

"As the host, it's always a classy move to play the first game," said Julian Bristow, Steamboat RFC coach and player. "We got a good mix of youth and experience. We are looking to at least make the semifinals. We are the defending champions. But it looks like once we get to the semifinal it's going to be a tough match, because it's going to be between either Vail or Provo, two very good teams."

The Cow Pie Classic — named in 1974 because of the "bread crumbs" left behind by rodeo livestock on the playing pitch — will be played all day Saturday and feature 12 men's teams, six women's teams, and one "Old Boys" match between players a little past their prime.

Each men's team is guaranteed two games — Steamboat's second game is against New Mexico at approximately 12:10 p.m. — with the top four making the 4:20 p.m. semifinals. The women's final is set for 6 p.m., with the men's final serving as the nightcap at approximately 7 p.m.

"Each team travels with 30 players, not to mention wives, girlfriends, kids, you name it. We are bringing close to 1,000 people to Steamboat Springs for this one little, one-day sporting event," Bristow said. "Rugby is the sleeping giant in sports. The second biggest sport in the world and right here in Steamboat we can bring 1,000 people to our little town to play a day of rugby."

Steamboat RFC has nearly 40 players out this season, which Troyer said is an "outstanding" number. The team has only played one match so far this season, beating host Glenwood — the same team it opens the Cow Pie Classic against — 28-3 on June 13. A second game was scheduled in Steamboat against Grand Junction, but was canceled when Grand Junction decided to go to Aspen instead and avoid the long trek north.

This means Steamboat RFC will enter Saturday's tournament without a whole lot of on-field time this season, but Troyer believes it has the veteran experience to overcome those odds.

"We've been together, most of us, for three or four years now. We kind of all have a feel for each other. The new faces are coming in real easy and adapting really well," Troyer said. "I look forward to trying to defend our championship, really. We won it very, very challengingly last year. We had some good, difficult teams we had to get through."

A key difference between this year's Steamboat RFC squad and previous year's is the absence of superstar Chris Baumann. A Steamboat native, Baumann was recently selected to the USA Men's Eagles 32-man roster in advance of the Rugby World Cup in England. This will be the first Classic Baumann has missed "in close to 10 years," according to Bristow.

Even so, Steamboat RFC should be in prime position to defend its title while showcasing one of the world's rising sports to Routt County.

"Enormous pressure," Bristow said about Steamboat being one of the tournament favorites. "Just one match is not enough to prepare for a tournament of this stature. Not to mention, because we've won it so many times, like seven out of the last 10 years, we've got a target on our back. So all the other teams are traveling strong and deep and they want to knock off Steamboat."

Bristow also wanted to say thank you to the tournament supporters, which include the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation department, McKnights Irish Pub and B&K Distributing, with the latter two providing food and beer for the tournament.

Cow Pie Classic Schedule for Saturday, July 11

8 a.m.

Steamboat vs. Glenwood (north)

Boulder 1 vs. Grand Junction (south)

8:50 a.m.

Vail vs. Provo (north)

Wyoming vs. Breckenridge (south)

9:40 a.m.

Women’s Game 1 (north)

Women’s Game 2 (south)

10:30 a.m.

Women’s Game 4 (north)

Women’s Game 3 (south)

11:20 a.m.

Old Boys game (north)

12:10 p.m.

Steamboat vs. New Mexico (north)

Grand Junction vs. Jackson (south)

1 p.m.

Vail vs. Boulder 2 (north)

Wyoming vs. Misfits (south)

1:50 p.m.

Glenwood vs. New Mexico (north)

Boulder 1 vs. Jackson (south)

2:40 p.m.

Women’s Game 5 (north)

Women’s Game 6 (south)

3:30 p.m.

Provo vs. Boulder 2 (north)

Breckenridge vs. Misfits (south)

4:20 p.m.

Men’s Semifinal (north)

Men’s Semifinal (south)

5:10 p.m.

Women’s 5th & 6th (north)

Women’s 3rd & 4th (south)

6 p.m.

Women’s Final (north)

7 p.m.

Men’s Final (north)