While any HBS student with an active nightlife and an ear to the social grapevine knew that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were seen around Harvard Square over Columbus Day weekend, few really knew why they were in Cambridge to begin with. In fact, the two were in town serving as special guests and co-master of ceremonies at the HBS Rugby Old Boys gala banquet. This annual event brings together the “Old Boys,” a rugby team formed of HBS alumni from the past four decades, and the “Young Boys,” or current HBS rugby team. Celebrities from stage and screen have been known to make special appearances in years past, but it was the long-standing friendship between Michael “Dobbs” Dobrynio (HBS ’02) and Affleck that brought these special guests in tonight.
Held at Ryles restaurant and jazz club in Inman Square, the highlights of the banquet involved musical entertainment, as J.Lo shared a new song with the crowd, performing with the house band. Both the Old Boys and Young Boys responded with songs of their own, including renditions of hits by Chicago and traditional folk songs. A rousing version of the classic “Music Man” brought down the house and served as a close to the banquet.
Post-banquet festivities were held at the Red Line – while the ruggers new and old decided to head there in their blazers and ties straight from the event, J.Lo and Affleck took the opportunity to dress down a bit for a more relaxed time since their official duties were now over.
Nonetheless, once the pair showed up, the crowd immediately took notice, and the Red Line soon became the hottest ticket in town. Many members of the rugby team took the opportunity to get to know Lopez and Affleck better. After a stimulating conversation with Ben Affleck, Tony Carango (OA) declared him an honorary member of the HBS Rugby team, and gave him the rugby blazer off his own back to prove it.
The night nearly turned ugly when an anonymous bar patron began heckling Ben Affleck – something about “sloppy seconds from Puff Daddy.” Affleck was none too pleased with this line of conversation, but stepping in to defuse an altercation was none other than the HBS Rugby team. Pleasantly surprised by this effort, Lopez and Affleck thanked the team and then accepted an invitation from team member Mark Okerstrom (NE) to attend the rugby game the following afternoon. Who knew J.Lo was such a big rugby fan? Natalie Portman was also at the Red Line that night, but she politely declined a similar invitation to the game.
Ah yes, the game! Sunday brought perfect rugby weather – cool with just enough rain to dampen the pitch without creating the dreaded artificial lakes. The first half was uneventful, bringing uninspired play from both sides (likely due to the effects of the night before). However, the HBS team captains would have none of it, and in one of the most inspirational halftime speeches ever given, Tony Carango declared, “guys we’re killing ourselves out there. You’re killing me…I’m killing me…we’re all killing me together!” HBS picked up the pace, and went on to beat the Old Boys 25-3, with tries from Baron Hanson (FAS), David Merle (OF), Seamus Smyth (FAS), Chris Withers (NA), and last, but certainly not least, Dan Gertsacov (NJ), whose try came on a long run after an intercepted pass which resulted in the quote of the day: “Thanks!”
Speaking of thanks, HBS Rugby would like to extend a hearty “thank you” to the Old Boys for hosting us at the banquet and post-game BBQ, and also to Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck for their part in the weekend’s festivities.