Note: No preview was available for September 16-18 due to the 49th Annual Aspen Ruggerfest.
As the leaves begin to turn in the mountains, many teams similarly hope their early-season fortunes will turn as well. In Men's Club Division 2, Boulder Rugby got off to a slow start at home against Glendale, and will look to course-correct against the Denver Barbarians this weekend. Boulder is 3-0 against the Barbarians in the past two seasons, but it was also 3-1 against Glendale heading into last weekend's match. Boulder playmakers Sean Kilfoyle and Paul Rohr will have to elevate the team's play if it hopes to counteract the formidable Barbarian pack. In their home opener against the Harlequins last weekend, the Barbos saw prop Mark DeGuire go across the line twice, and the Barbarians are always relentless at the breakdown. In the Barbarian backline, both Lance Eberhard and Ryan Walker once again put a spark in the team's dynamism.
The Denver Harlequins have a much more difficult road to climb - both literally and figuratively - as they travel to Utah to take on Park City Haggis. After a disappointing home opener, the Quins will hope to catch Haggis off-guard as Denver coach Angus Peacock takes the reigns for a second full year. Park City has struggled with player loss from the advent of the Rugby Utah Men's Division, and will likely be hurting for depth until Spring. That being said, the veterans that remain for Haggis should provide the club plenty of firepower. Harlequin wing Paul Bordenkircher was spectacular in week 1, and the Quins' ability to get him the ball in space could prove the difference in the final score.
In Men's Club Division 3, the Northern Colorado Flamingos and Queen City Rams both look to get their seasons started against each other. Queen City is 14-2 in D3 in the past two seasons, but the Flamingos have been right at their heels, going 10-6 in the same time period. Last season, NoCo only lost to Queen City by three points (20-23), falling to a Ryan Clemons penalty kick in the 77th minute that sealed the game for Ctiy. For both teams, an early win in Fort Collins could give them significant momentum as they battle through a significantly-improved Division 3 schedule.
Elsewhere in D3, the relegated Colorado Springs Grizzlies hope to continue their hot start against the defending champion Denver Highlanders. In week 1, the Grizzlies made short work of a Glendale D3 side that went 5-2 last season, defeating them at Infinity Park South by a score of 56-12. The Colorado Springs' attack is said to be much improved, and consists of a number of players that opponents often underestimate, including fullback Tim Cornelius. The Grizzlies are also guided by the steady leadership of Sam "Irish" McGee in the front row. The Highlanders are no pushover, however, and this match is sure to speak volumes about the direction of this year's competition. Against the Harlequins' reserves in week 1, the Highlanders were similarly impressive, defeating the Quins 57-14, with the last 7 of 14 only coming from a try at the death. The Highlanders have weapons at virtually every position, including arguably the strongest tight-five in the league, and have the steady hand of Adam Price leading them from the flyhalf position. Price was good for nearly 12 points/game in 2015-2016, and is known for putting his teammates into space for quick strikes from every angle.
Division 4 action continues this weekend as well, as the Littleton Eagles hope to get off on a strong foot against the Colorado Springs reserves. The Grizzlies' D4 side defeated the Colorado Rush 90-7 in week 1, but will also be facing the Eagles on the same day their first team goes against the Highlanders. Littleton is something of an unknown entity, but they can be quite formidable when they have all their players in form. Both sides hope to finish in the top four of this year's 8-team Division 4 competition, and this match will go a long ways towards determining the ability to do just that.
The Rush hope to be vastly improved this weekend as they take on the Boulder reserves. Boulder's depth was tested in week 1, winning a high-scoring affair with the Marauders. If their defense doesn't improve, there's potential for another shootout, as the Rush's ability to score isn't in question if they can keep the ball in hand. Getting, and keeping, the ball will ultimately decide how well the Rush execute this weekend as they look for their first win of the season.
The Marauders-Harlequins Division 4 match has been postponed to Saturday, October 22.
Glendale heads to Berkeley in the Women's Premier League, as the two-time defending WPL Champions must face the most historically-successful club in women's club history on its own home ground. The match is also a rematch of the 2015 WPL Championship Final. In the first two rounds of play, Glendale has ground out two tough victories over the San Diego Surfers and Oregon Sports Union (ORSU), but Berkeley has more or less seen its wheels fall off and will need this win to get its season back on track. Last week, the All Blues lost to the Surfers by a score of 69-7.
The Boulder Babes host the Mid-Missouri Black Sheep in Women's Club Division 2 play. The Babes had a spirited exhibition session in Aspen last weekend, and look to return to the playoffs for the third year in a row. Hosting the Black Sheep should be a first step on that pathway, as the Columbia, Missouri-based side didn't offer much difficulty for the Babes last year in a match that saw Boulder victorious, 48-5.
In the college ranks, Wyoming travels to New Mexico in a match that is must-win for both teams. For Wyoming, a win will demonstrate their back on the ascendancy; for New Mexico, this is one of their most-winnable games on a very daunting West D1A schedule.
In Salt Lake City, a high-profile friendly between Utah and Colorado State will have national eyes on it. Utah is a question mark to many at the moment, having shockingly lost to Air Force in their first match of the season. Whether Air Force is that good, or Utah is rebuilding, should be seen by the result against Colorado State. The Rams are an excellent team, and this match could be a big rankings-mover in D1A.
Utah State makes its D1A debut against Air Force. The Aggies have scores of Utah-based talent that's graduated from the state's impressive high school system, but Air Force looks to be firing on all cylinders. This match will be a good benchmark game for both teams as the West D1A Conference slowly starts to reveal itself.
In Men's College Division 2, Colorado Mines is looking to redeem itself after an early-season upset loss to Western State last weekend. They'll face a Colorado Mesa team that beat UCCS 17-13 last weekend, which was a much closer match than the contest between Mines and UCCS, which Mines won 46-10.
Mines and Mesa will also meet in Women's College Division 2, though expectations might be trending the other direction. Mines looked impressive in their 55-10 defeat of Wyoming, but Mesa looked unstoppable as it defeated UCCS 101-0 last weekend. Wyoming and UCCS will face each other as well, and the South Division of the conference should have a much clearer understanding of itself after this round of matches.
Men's Club Division 2
Denver Barbarians D2 vs. Boulder Rugby
Park City Haggis vs. Denver Harlequins
Men's Club Division 3:
Colorado Springs Grizzlies vs. Denver Highlanders
Northern Colorado Flamingos vs. Queen City Rams
Men's Club Division 4:
Marauders Rugby vs. Denver Harlequins D4 [postponed]
Colorado Springs D4 vs. Littleton Eagles
Colorado Rush vs. Boulder Rugby D4
Men's College Division 1A:
New Mexico vs. Wyoming
#7 Utah vs. #20 Colorado State
Utah State vs. #12 Air Force
Men's College Division 2:
Colorado Mesa vs. Colorado Mines
Women's Premier League (Club):
Berkeley All Blues vs. Glendale Raptors
Women's Club Division 2:
Boulder Babes vs. Mid-Missouri Black Sheep
Women's College Division 2:
Colorado Mines vs. Colorado Mesa
UCCS vs. Wyoming
Tocabe - An American Indian Eatery
USA Women's 7s Tournament
Rocky Mtn. Challenge
Denver 7s Tournament
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