Saturday is Rugby Day

“SATURDAY IS RUGBY DAY, SATURDAY IS RUGBY DAY…” The Bus Stop Bar in Allston shook with ‘7 Days of Rugby’, led by the screaming howl of Chief Songmeister Charles “Lemmy’ Macdonald (OC). Although the Wolfhounds had pipped our boys on the pitch, the punches, butts and insults were long forgotten during post-match celebrations.

After blooding new players last weekend, HBS Rugby turned its attention to supporters for the first league match against the Irish Wolfhounds.

While the boys fought a battle of attrition on the pitch, the bevy of female first-time fans provided entertaining running commentary on the side-lines.

HBS has a good-knack of starting strongly and the forwards gained hard yards to win a penalty in front of the posts. Ken ‘Jaws’ Ebbitt (OG) slotted over the goal for HBS to take a 3-0 lead. The rugby virgins were impressed by sight of the forwards smashing into each other only yards away. After a monster tackle by Daniel ‘Mumbles’ Morris (OF), followed by a flare-up involving Mark ‘It’s my job to be gobbie’ Okerstrom (OE), Margaret Chu (OE) wanted to know if anyone had lost any teeth. With only 3 minutes on the clock, this would be a first even for HBS, and so long-time supporters immediately turned to where Dan ‘Big Dan’ Gertsacov (OJ), notorious for injuring his own players, was standing. No one was on the ground with blood gushing from their mouth, so where were these rogue teeth? Was the Gene ‘Kildare’ Ng (OB) and his ophthalmic training required already? As luck would have it, the question was of a rhetorical nature and so followed a short discourse about mouth guards and war stories from the ever-larger group of rugby warriors on the sidelines, keen to pass on their knowledge and phone numbers.

RC Ollie ‘Dai’ Thomas (NA) was having another fine game. The HBS backs were moving the ball wide, but with the Wolfhound defense easily able to shuffle across, Thomas gritted his teeth and often straightened up the line to drive hard into the two big centres. Meanwhile, the more-experienced Wolfhounds were conjuring up clean breaks, but Spence ‘Unbreakable’ Kympton (OD) always appeared to make last-ditch tackles to protect the HBS try-line. However, sustained pressure forced HBS to commit fouls and the Wolfhounds leveled the game at 3-3.

It helps to be a big guy in rugby and at HBS they don’t come much bigger than Gertz. In broken play, the Wolfhound lock received the ball standing still. Alas, for him, the Gertz Express had already left the station and was headed straight for the unlucky Irishman’s knees, pole-axing him onto the hard ground. The Wolfhounds dropped the ball and Gertz arose with a roar. Frenzy from the fans ensued. This is what they had come to see. The rugby men moved away in fright, commenting, “Those girls are ferocious.” And so the half finished all square.

With the wind at their backs, the Wolfhounds looked to turn the HBS team, but strong defense, with Kympton again especially prominent, held back the tide. Roy ‘Slim’ Kim (OA) is built of Canadian teak, which is fortunate, because he also receives more hospital passes than the rest of the team put together. Maybe the other backs don’t like him. Who knows, but this game proved to be one too many, as Kim was first dump-tackled as he received a ball with ‘hurt me’ written all over it and was then scragged and tackled into touch. The unlucky wing smacked his head onto the ground and was forced to leave the game injured and start the queue at the Holyoke Centre. Kim later found out that he had cracked his orbital socket and can now be found wandering campus dressed like an extra from Austin Powers. There are too many injuries at HBS and a significant contributing factor must be the pitch. The pitches where soccer and rugby teams and all intramural games are played are a pitted, litter-strewn cabbage patch. Given the amount of money spent on facilities – do the squirrels have a personal coiffeurs? – the state of the outdoor pitches is unacceptable. But I digress.

Replacements Derek ‘DD’ Mendez (OOD), John ‘Relax’ Sheppard (OI) and Kiwi Campbell ‘Soup’ Murray (OJ) were now on the pitch and added extra energy to the tough forward battle. But after HBS missed touch with a clearing kick, the Wolfhounds scored another penalty to take the lead, 6-3 and another infringement gave them a further three points.

The injuries piled up. Okerstrom had already departed with a black eye.

Brit Steve Evans – whose excellent hooking and throwing-in have made a huge difference to the HBS set-pieces left with a shoulder injury, and then James ‘Sparkie’ Nadauld (OJ) clashed with Bryan ‘Vani’ Vaniman’s (OF) crotch. Not a nice coming together for either man. Nadauld was led from the pitch to join the queue behind Kim, unclear whether concussion or proximity to greatness had caused the damage.

And then, HBS’s best play of the match. Wave after wave of HBS forwards, led by Baron ‘Red’ Hanson (FAS), Rafa ‘Silky’ Masoni (NC) and Vaniman moved the ball up the park, and a rolling maul worked hard to send Gertz over the line for a vital five points. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed, leaving the Wolfhounds ahead by just one point going into the final 10 minutes of the match. HBS, roared on by the crowd and inspired by scrummie Hiko Sakamoto (NC), almost snuck it at the end, but the ball could not quite get out to the flying Ebbitt. The game never seemed out of reach but Wolfhounds steadied the nerves with another penalty to leave the final score 8-12. Close, but ultimately the Wolfhounds left with the cigar.

The B-team then took on the Wolfhounds. After the technical, tight A-game, this match offered flowing rugby. Led by Joe Tesvic (NC), the forwards were very well organized with Ty Shultz (NH) making an impact at the line-out from good throws by Will Swint (OI). Mike ‘Money’ Munson (OA) showed good hands and fooled the Wolfhound defense and just lacked the gas to score. Two that really caught the eye were Saul de la Guarda (HLS), who tackled like a man possessed and Mike Butville (NB). Butville gallops through tackles as though they aren’t there and will surely score a lot of points this season. The whole team played well, thoroughly deserving its 10-8 victory.

September 22, 2003
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