HBS Rugby moved closer toward their first semester objective to gel as an MBA Championship team with a victory over visiting South Shore on Saturday. With a rare 9:00 AM kickoff time, the HBS ruggers turned an early wake-up call into an early lead with two tries in the first ten minutes. HBS began the game with solid forwards support in the rucks and mauls, especially from back rows Baron Hanson (FAS) and Charles Macdonald (ND) and 2nd rows David Merle (OF) and Santiago Kraiselburd (DBA). The backs were lethal, with inside center Spence Kympton (ND) and fly half Jorge O’Hara (OI) constantly cutting back in through South Shore’s defense and producing second phase game which the forwards complemented beautifully. The first score came early in the first half from outside center Mark Okerstrom (NE) who stormed in for a try from 10 meters out after being set up nicely by a spirited run by Kympton.
Striking again in just a few minutes, Nam Kry (OC) employed his usual brand of speed and tenacity, pulling off a feisty 45 meter run into the try zone for what looked like five points. However, in the cruelest twist of fate, Kry knocked-on (fumbled the ball) right under the posts, forcing the referee to call back his score and award South Shore a 5 meter scrum.
Refusing to let Kry’s superb run go to waste, hooker Tony Carango (OA) called for his eight forwards to pack down and push over South Shore’s scrum. It worked – at a combined weight of almost 1750 lbs., the HBS forwards rolled over South Shore and took possession of the ball against the head. Quick-thinking Josh Hall (OF), in at scrum half, picked up and darted into the tryzone, carrying most of South Shore’s back row players with him. HBS had five more points in the bank.
South Shore got on the board by capitalizing on an HBS mistake, scoring a try after a penalty inside the HBS 22 by taking it in with their flyhalf and converting. In response, prop Dan Gertsacov (NJ) bulldozed his way in for a try midway in the first half following a heads-up play by forwards captain Tony Carango who faked the long ball and then threw in a short quick pass on a line-out deep in South Shore’s end. Finishing up the first half scoring was Jorge O’Hara, who did a dummy scissors pass with Spence Kympton and ran “around the bend”, juking his way past the opposition to the try line for a score just before halftime.
The second half brought a re-energized South Shore side, who played with newfound determination. Taking advantage in the early minutes of the half, they had HBS on their heels and scored another try. The momentum had seemingly turned, with South Shore winning all the line outs, and HBS unable to produce offensive plays because they could not maintain possession. But with 15 minutes to go the HBS team woke up again and began playing like in the first half. A penalty kick near the 45 yard converted by Jorge O’Hara put distance in the score again and HBS seemed to catch their second wind, stifling South Shore with hard tackling and tough play. Close to the end HBS finally won a line out and after having played a tight game, O’Hara called for the famous “bread & butter” play making a dummy move with Mark Okerstrom spinning a skip pass for a brilliant entry by the fullback Chris Withers (NA), who took on the opposition from 22 meters out and rambled in for a try to put the game away at its final score of 38-19.
Man of the Match: Once again, the agility, ball work, running and golden toe of Jorge O’Hara made him the choice as the standout player against South Shore on Saturday. A former Peruvian National Sevens player – with experience against the New Zealand All Blacks – O’Hara scored one try and kicked 5 conversions and a penalty for a total of 18 of HBS’ points. O’Hara was especially tough against an opposing flyhalf who ran the ball forward all day long.
Quote of the Match: Said one HBS player to another while a South Shore forward was lying on the ground in pain, very slow to get up: “Hey, what happend to that guy? Oh, he just ran into Gene.” – referring to Gene Ng (NB).
What makes Rugby such an enjoyable club sport is the chance for new players to experience its glory for the first time. John Sheppard (NI), a former football player, ran the ball well and set many rucks perfectly during his first ever Rugby match. Afterwards, Sheppard explained to the Harbus, “as a quarterback I was used to being a target and reacting quickly, I guess that experience came in handy today. I loved it!” Bryan Vaniman (NF), a former wrestler from Stanford, is a powerful new tackler on the team. During both the A & B games, Vaniman used his strength and agility to take down South Shore’s biggest and fastest ball runners. From the center, Spence Kympton ran the ball like a freight train, yet another man using his size and stength to his advantage.
In addition, what makes HBS Rugby a championship level team in the World MBA rankings is the level of talent and experience among new first year players at HBS. After only two weeks of training and two matches under our belts, 2002-2003 HBS Rugby is dotted with international talent.
Dan Gertsacov, the massive prop forward with roots in Virginia and Rhode Island, played high level Rugby for Old Blue in California, and most recently Brazil for their national team. Mark Okerstrom, a crafty center and scrumhalf, comes to HBS Rugby from Canada, and displayed quality ball handling, passing and offloading experience in the backline against South Shore. Kevin Brosseau (HLS) is another massive stand-out prop also hailing from Canada. In the fullback position, the calm speed and charisma of Chris Withers from Cambridge, England put points on the board for HBS while making an amazing try-saving tackle against South Shore.
HBS Rugby has moved their after-match socials and team dinner venue to Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery on Church Street in Harvard Square, just down from Cambridge One. This new venue is large enough – and fun enough – to accommodate the hordes of HBS Rugby fans and players each week. The ample food menu and drinks on tap there are stellar. And, since the Chairman (founder and former CEO) of Rock Bottom, Frank Day, is an HBS Alumnus, look for custom HBS Rugby jockwear on your favorite player soon – courtesy of Rock Bottom corporate in Colorado.