They’ve met in the last two Rugby Colorado state championship matches, won the last three state titles, and Wednesday, Colorado Springs and Denver East will renew their rivalry at East.
East enters the contest 5-0, while Springs sports a 4-1 record. The Grizzlies dropped a close game, 24-21, to Cherry Creek early in the season. East beat Creek 29-3.
Colorado Springs’ loss came in early March, when the Grizzlies still had some players in wrestling. That, coupled with a lot of turnover following the graduation of a big senior class, contributed to the loss.
“We’ve got a stack of new boys this year, and we’ve got a backline that’s returning, and we’ve got virtually a new forward pack,” said Springs coach John Paterson. “So it’s about getting the boys up to a good medium.”
Paterson sees the emergence of Creek, who finished first in the state’s second division last year, as a boon to the Colorado rugby community.
“If we beat East, there’ll be Cherry Creek, Colorado Springs and East all with similar points, which I think is a great thing for rugby to have that number fighting for that pole position, so to speak, before the playoffs,” he said.
Since the loss to Creek, the Grizzlies have been nearly flawless. Springs leads the state in points scored with 328, while East leads the state in fewest points allowed, having conceded just one try all year.
Saturday’s renewal of a rivalry should could well be not just a rematch of the previous two state title games, but a preview of a third in a row.
“It’s always treated with respect,“ said Paterson of the East game.
“I think they’ve got over 100 players, which is a godsend for any program. Bill Baer has a great program, and we respect that, and we come from a pretty small outfit down here and we just try to do our most to out-smart them on the day.”