It’s September and in our family that means it’s RUGGERFEST time! This year we’ll be heading out to Aspen for the 50th annual Aspen Ruggerfest tournament, a celebration with more than 40 teams in five divisions — including women — from around the globe meeting at one of the nation’s longest-standing rugby tournaments. The Gentleman of Aspen was founded in 1968 and has continued to grow, adding both “Old Boys” and Junior teams. Rugby 2017 is the second most-participated in team sport in the world, just after soccer.
For our family, it’s personal. After playing rugby in college, my husband Andrew (Salty) arrived in Aspen in 1990 and joined the Gentleman of Aspen Rugby team. I met this handsome, blue-eyed, mud- (and possibly blood-) covered guy after an Aspen rugby match in 1991. I believe I bought him a shot of tequila…ugh!
Salty and Rob Brown, 1991
He was elected vice president of the club in 1992; the next year he became president of the club and remained so for the following 15 years. During his presidency, the Gentleman of Aspen won nine national titles (more than any other club in Division 1). He was inducted into the Colorado Rugby 2017 Hall of Fame in 2001 and we reconnected and were married in 2008.
More than 30 Aspen players have represented the U.S. in international play and once nine Aspen players were playing on the U.S. Rugby team, The Eagles, at the same time. Not bad for a small town. These Gentleman are amazing! During the late 80s and through the 90s, the entire town of Aspen and rugby 2017 were one. Almost everyone’s schedules revolved around it. Businesses would close during games and the players were comped at most restaurants and bars. The way these men and their sport brought the community together was inspiring and exhilarating.
Alec Parker 2002
Salty is no longer playing rugby, but it is a constant in our lives. He hosted the entire U.S. team for a week in 2006 at his ranch during build up for the World Cup. Our dear friend and Salty’s former roommate, Brian Hightower, is now the Rugby color commentator for NBC and the Olympics. Our towering ranch manager, Alec Parker, is a former Aspen and U.S. Eagles player and still participates in Ruggerfest. Many of our friends in Aspen are former Gentlemen of Aspen players and we take great joy in watching their sons joining in on the Junior team these days.
I’m particularly excited about this years Ruggerfest. Andrew is a huge part of the celebration, starting with the dinner for the Aspen Rugby Hall of Fame. I’m incredibly proud of his accomplishments and commitment to this team and group of guys. Many friends from around the country and world are returning for the 50th to celebrate, reminisce, laugh, and truly enjoy their bond of friendship. You’ll find me cheering on Aspen from the sidelines…probably wearing Salty’s old rugby jersey!
Locally, you can get your rugby spirit on by clicking here to get up to speed on the basics of the game then watching some of these fabulous local teams…
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