The HBS Warriors traveled to Duke University last weekend to compete in the World MBA Rugby Championship. Thirty teams came from all over the world to play in this increasingly competitive tournament but in the end North Carolina’s atrocious weather prohibited an outright champion from being named. Four teams, including HBS, reached the semi final stage, but unplayable grounds and lightning storms forced the cancellation of further games. Very disappointing for an HBS side confident of going all the way, but satisfying nevertheless that we were able to make up for our early exit last year.
Pool games were played on the Saturday. The first game for HBS was against the Australian Graduate School of Management, who were very upset over the theft of their mascot wombat – some people just can’t take a joke. Our lack for match practice showed as we gave away too many penalties and struggled to get the ball out to our devastating backline. The HBS forwards started a trend that would be continued throughout the weekend as they dominated the AGSM pack. The scrum was rock solid and the rucking and mauling play very strong. Both teams scored one try in the game, but AGSM managed one penalty, and HBS lost 8 – 5. Little did anyone know that those 8 points would be the last scored against HBS in the tournament.
Cornell were the unfortunate team to bear the brunt of HBS disappointment at the first up performance. Once again the HBS pack was incredible, driving the Cornell forwards backwards all game, and tackling like demons. This time the backline were provided with great ball to work with, and their slick passing and strong running gave new meaning to the term “champagne rugby”. To give Cornell credit, they defended very well, but it was only a matter of time before HBS started to rack up the points, and 3 second half tries resulted in a 19 – 0 victory.
The rain was pelting down as HBS took the field for their next game against Duke. By this time the HBS side were a cohesive unit playing very good rugby and Duke hardly managed to get their hands on the ball for most of the game. The weather conditions, coupled with some questionable refereeing decisions, kept HBS tryless for the entire game, but 3 penalties led to a 9 – 0 victory. It wasn’t pretty but the win should have guaranteed HBS a good seeding for the knockout competition on Sunday.
The tournament banquet on the Saturday night once again served to highlight the character of the HBS players on and off the field. The warriors, resplendent in fearsome attire, candy necklaces included, thrilled the large crowd with their singing, dancing and general merriment. The judges had no hesitation in awarding the “best-dressed team award” as well as the “best new artist award” to HBS.
Seedings and the draw for Sunday’s games were provided late in the evening and it was a shock to see HBS ranked as #14, when a seeding of around #6 would have been expected. It turned out that the score for our win over Cornell had been incorrectly recorded as a loss, hence our 1 win / 2 loss record justified a low seeding. The upshot of this error was an early Sunday game against Thunderbird, which had a 3 – 0 record, and boasted a very strong forward pack, with an ex-US national player at fly half.
Thunderbird never really knew what hit them. HBS played the entire game at a searing pace, making a mockery of the torrential rain that should have limited the game to a slow forward battle. The HBS forwards crushed their highly regarded opponents, laying on a feast of excellent ball for the backs. Time and again the Thunderbird defense was breached with flowing backline moves, but desperate tackling saw half-time arrive with the scores still locked at 0 – 0. The second half was much like the first – HBS dominated possession but the slippery ball and some tough Thunderbird defense made it difficult to break through. Eventually the pressure told, and HBS managed to score a great try, followed up by a penalty. The 10 – 0 final scoreline flattered Thunderbird, but was enough to take us through to a quarterfinal match-up against Wharton.
The Wharton game really was a war of attrition. Rain had been falling all day and the field was a mudbath, making ball handling almost impossible. HBS was clearly the superior side, but in the end a solitary penalty was the only scoring moment in the match, and we had to be content with a 3 – 0 victory.
HBS were drawn to play a semi final rematch against AGSM. We had improved so much throughout the tournament that we were very confident that we could take the Australians the second time around. However the game was not to be. An electrical storm warning was issued for the area and given that the fields were completely saturated with water the referees determined that it would be dangerous to continue play. The championship was shared between 4 teams – HBS, AGSM, University of North Carolina and Smurfit of Dublin. It should be noted that the other 3 teams forfeited the HBS boat race challenge to determine one true winner.
In other tournament play over the weekend HBS demonstrated their true all-around sporting prowess:
Winners of the golf championship. Wharton stole our prizes but they were duly recovered, with minimal bloodshed.
Winners of the javelin toss, the javelin catch and the hammer throw.
The Duke tournament is a great way to wind up the rugby season and the performance of the HBS side was nothing short of phenomenal. The club continues to go from strength to strength, and now the baton has been passed to the players from the class of 2002 to take HBS rugby to new heights in the next year.
The HBS rugby team at Duke was:
Dann “Spankalot” Angeloff
Ben “Big Man” Bromberg
JD “Seal Tough” Denney
Adam “Legz” Diamond
Mike “Dobs” Dobrynio
Nick “Never Pass” Eaton
Houman “Who?” Fardin – injured prior to traveling, attended in spirit
Chris “Mensa” Gabel
Sean “Squeeze them until they pop” Gass
Chris “Flash” Gordon
Charlie “Just touch it” Graham
Pryce “I should still be a back” Greenow
Mike “Tackle of the tournie” Hammons
Baron “The Email King” Hansen
John “Samson” Hoffman
Barry “Connoroshea” Horgan
Rob “I’m too sexy” Lawrence
Claude “Bleep test” London
Steve “Belligerent” Louden
Tony “The bigger they are the harder they land on me” Morgan
Simon “Crunching tackle” Morrish
Trent “Caged squirrel” Munro
Nate “Centerfold” Niles
Chika “I finally found my Mojo” Okereke
Mike “Princess” Paley
Lee “Now I’ve lost my Mojo” Rawlings
Kevin “The Angry Tropical Man” Releford
Svend “I should be in the brain off” Reitjidk
Struan “Go you good thing” Scott
Austin “Backfight” Sharp
Paul “Women pay to have an ass like this” Shuga
Jochem “The silent assassin” Tans
Randy “I’m gonna bust him in two” Teele
Warren “The Judge” Valdmanis
Kris “Golden Banana” Walenczak
Tim “Fast, sexy and tough” Watson
Kris “Let’s spoof for the tab at Mug Shots” Whalen
Dann “The early riser” Zinn