The inaugural Eastern Rockies Cup Finals event took place on Saturday, November 3, at Glendale’s recently-resurfaced Infinity Park south field. The event was the scheduled capstone for the hybrid D2/D3 competition, and Boulder Rugby – the area’s oldest senior club – walked away with the championship’s first trophy.
The Eastern Rockies Cup is a hybrid competition between clubs in the Rocky Mountain Premiership and the Rocky Mountain Championship. Featuring eight of the top and longest-tenured clubs in the area, the cup competition plays alongside Fall Premiership and Championship fixtures, featuring two pools of four teams each.
The first match of the day saw an energized Denver Barbarians side storm out to a 67-7 victory over the Littleton Eagles to capture 5th place. The Barbos competed in the competition with a mixture of first- and second-team players, and were keen to make a statement in the finals after upsets by Boulder and Queen City earlier in the year. Thomas LaMuraglia led the Barbos with an incredible 4 tries, with Charles Ajarrista adding 12 more points with his boot and a try of his own.
In the competition’s third-place match, the heated rivalry between the Denver Highlanders and Queen City Rams lived up its expectations – and then some. After finishing the Fall leg of its Rocky Mountain Championship fixtures a perfect 4-0, Queen City jumped to an early lead with a 6th-minute try by Thomas Pearce. Their Rocky Mountain Premiership opponents, however, quickly countered with a try by flyhalf Adam Price just moments later, and then added two more scores by Josh Slater and Jeff Westbrook. The trio of longtime veterans thus gave the Highlanders a 21-7 lead going into halftime. After the break, Queen City was able to take advantage of a pair of Highlander yellow cards to add 10 points while playing two men up, via a PK by Charlie Keener and a converted try by Kaine Dimech. Alexander Friedman then scored in the 63rd minute to give Queen City a 22-21 lead, which was followed by a Bobby Haynes try in the 67th minute to push the margin to 27-21. The Highlanders would not relent though, and outside center Peter Gray crashed over the line in the 79th minute to put his team within one. Moments later, a successful conversion by Gray put the Highlanders up 28-27, stealing the victory from Queen City’s hands.
Later, in the Eastern Rockies Cup championship match, Boulder Rugby proved too much for the Colorado Springs Grizzlies to handle on the day. The match stood at 12-7 just 31 minutes in, but an outpouring of second-half tries led to a 59-19 Boulder victory. Boulder’s Sean Kilfoyle, named Tournament MVP and Man of the Match, proved unstoppable, and Boulder’s pace and passing was difficult for the 2018 RMR Division 3 Champion Grizzlies to contain. Boulder finishes the Fall 5-2 overall, with a victory over the Denver Barbarians, who were the 2018 USA Rugby Division II National Champions. For Colorado Springs, who made the 2018 USA Rugby Division III National Round of 16, success in the Eastern Rockies Cup (2nd Place) will hopefully fuel a change in their 2018-2019 season fortunes. The Grizzlies finish the Fall 2-4-1, going 1-3 in Division III but 2-1-1 in the Eastern Rockies Cup (their win over Littleton counted in both standings).