Headed up to North Shore for the first road game of the season, one had to wonder how HBS would respond to a hostile crowd and unfamiliar stadium. The answer came early and often, as HBS Rugby scored seemingly at will against a determined but outmatched opponent.
Leading off the scoring was Santiago Kraiselburd (DBA), who scored a try from tight play and team effort from the forwards within the five-meter line. Not much later, Baron Hanson (FAS) stole the ball on a lineout by North Shore and evaded tackles halfway across the field on his way to the try zone. Describing his instinctive play after the match, Hanson said, “all I know is that I intercepted their lineout in mid air and ran like hell for 40 meters or so.” Conversions kicked by the golden toe of Jorge O’Hara (OI) on both scores made the score at halftime 14-0.
The second half was highlighted by more fantastic scoring plays, led off by James Nadauld’s (NI) try on a beautiful skip pass from O’Hara.
Seamus Smythe (FAS) followed with a heads-up play on a North Shore penalty, restarting with a quick tap and bowling in for the try. O’Hara shortly took advantage of another North Shore mistake, converting on a penalty kick for three points. Though O’Hara had actually attempted a drop goal for points and missed during the game, he is clearly one of the top players in the league. Said forwards captain Tony Carango (OA), “in my honest opinion, he’s probably the only guy I know who could do that, miss, and not get laughed off the pitch.”
Later in the half, Shoney Katz (OC) appeared to be headed for a try, but was taken down at the 5m line. Not wanting to waste a beautiful run, Katz popped a beautiful pass from the ground to Carango, who went in for the score. Said Shoney after the game, “that was payback for one of at least two knocked on tries that I set Tony up with last year.” Still hungry for the try zone, Katz converted on another chance in the second half, a great backline play that resulted in an overload on the near side of the pitch, allowing Shoney to sprint 60 yards for the score. HBS finished scoring the same way they started, on a tough try by Santiago Kraiselburd. When the whistle blew, it was a 46-0 victory for Harvard.
Perhaps the highlight of Harvard’s crushing of North Shore was the transformation that took place in the second half. After the first 40 minutes, forwards captain Tony Carango was simply unsatisfied with the 14 points on the scoreboard. Rallying the team together in a huddle, backs captain Shoney Katz challenged his teammates to a goal of 30 more points in the second half. With fifteen minds keenly focused on reaching that goal, at the sound of the final whistle HBS Rugby had presented their captains with 32 points. One player commented, “to see the look of satisfaction on all our faces – especially our captains’ – after reaching that high of a goal as a team is the essence of why Rugby is played.”
HBS Rugby capped another Peruvian standout player when Nacho Palma (OF) came into the match at scrum half, delighting teammates and annoying the opposition with crafty and elusive play. Ken Ebbitt (NG), who played rugby in New Zealand, also had an outstanding match, tackling two men at a time and getting right up to make the next hit.
Central to HBS Rugby’s evolving game plan is powerful pod-running in the forwards. Led by gargantuan prop Dan Gertsacov (NJ) and locks David Merle (OF) and Santiago Kraiselburd, Harvard’s pack dominated the game with tight ball control and pounding runs. Rookie John Sheppard started the game at flanker along with Seamus Smythe and played an integral role in the game, helping pound the ball through on tight play in the pack. Charles Macdonald (ND) and Kevin Brosseau (HLS) at the prop position were instrumental in winning scrums and lineouts as well as playing hard in the rucks. This sort of team effort in the forwards earned Gertsacov honors from North Shore as “Man of the Match”, though the title was nearly revoked later in the day when Dan abandoned the team trip to Oktoberfest for a night of opera instead.
Standout rookie Bryan Vaniman (NF) came into the match at halftime – his first ever A-side Rugby match – and ran the ball hard for Harvard, tackling opposition to the ground with vigor. Drawing upon his strengths as a Stanford wrestler, Vaniman faked the opposition out of their jocks, but faked them out of his own underwear as well during the B-side game. Most of the North Shore women began whistling and taking photographs, but Vaniman remained focused on the game. Harbus sources indicate a possible autograph session late in the season for “blushing Bryan,” but Vaniman has yet to comment.