The magic of HBS Rugby is alive once again. While spring graduation bids farewell to approximately 50% of the team’s roster, incoming first years from all over the world fill those empty shoes come fall. This year is proving to be a spectacular transformation. While many players have advanced levels of rugby experience, the months of September and October are perhaps the most exciting for new players to the game. While participating in a grad school sport that one knows well is enjoyable, perhaps comfortable, there is a special cadre of men that challenge themselves by taking up rugby at HBS. You will read more about them as the fall season progresses, because the blending of old and new is what the magic of HBS Rugby is all about. With just two training sessions to get acquainted, co-captains Oli Thomas (OA) and Mike Butville (OB) lead an assembly of rugby players onto the pitch for the first game of the season. Scoring six tries to two, HBS prevailed 32-13.
The game was played about an hour north of Boston on an interesting new artificial turf pitch. From the opening kickoff, fly-half Rafa Guida Masoni (OC) ran, passed and kicked clever ball into excellent position for the HBS backs to advance. It was not long before debutant Thomas Lefebvre (NF) crossed for Harvard’s first try. Oli Thomas is well-known on campus as the Welsh Stallion. However, he is also a scoring machine on the pitch. He scored the first of a hat-trick of tries after some solid forwards play saw Koome Imathiu (OB) dart into some space. Joseph Tesvic (OC) arrived in support, drew the Middlesex fullback and passed on for Thomas to score. Throughout the rest of the first half, Terry Angelos (MIT) and Owain Hughes (HMS) both impressed with tireless and error-free football from the scrum-half and fullback positions respectively. To Middlesex’s credit, they ran hard and tackled solidly throughout the entire match. However, links and offloads between Harvard forwards and backs, especially at the rucks, created constant pressure and it was not long before Oliver Thomas crossed for his second try. A late Middlesex try§ saw the Harvard team reach half-time with a 15-8 lead.
As halftime ended, Australian Coach Scot Durkin and the captains were not satisfied with this slender margin. Wanting more, Thomas commanded that “this team will seal up the day’s match in the next ten minutes.” And with that, it was so. HBS came out hard by maintaining tighter ball, producing quality rucks, making key link-ups – and scoring three more tries. The first of these came from the surprising power of the HBS Forwards. Led by Mike Butville and veteran player/coach Steve Evans (OF), even an outweighed HBS pack was able to tame the Barbarians. After a clever lineout call from Steve Evans (OF), Butville took the ball at second jumper and led a drive towards the Middlesex line. All eight forwards drove hard for a 15-20 yard roll, with Carl Lavin (NE) picking up the first of what will likely be many tries for the club. Man-of-the Match Lavin, and Oxford Blue was fast and ferocious in the loose, delivering precision tackles and making consistent running impact. The game ended just as it had begun – bone-crunching hits from the likes of Saul De La Guardia (HLS), Baron Hanson (FAS), Owen Stockdale (OI) and Jay Klug (OE), speedy work from the outside backs including impressive newcomer Ben Stamets (NJ). And yet another try to the Welsh Stallion. The final score: HBS 32 defeated Middlesex 13.
It is customary in Rugby for second or even third match to be played. Men who have never played Rugby or know the rules from an on-the-field perspective engage in a match as competitive as the A-game, only the referee is more patient and explanatory. Not only do new Ruggers have the chance to learn and gain experience – the B-game is their bid for an upcoming First XV spot. Nowhere did the magic of HBS Rugby come alive more than this fall’s opening B-game. It displayed not only a fine cadre of future Harvard MBA/Grad Rugby stars, but that the youthful age range of students is proving to be an asset athletically. Tom Connelly (ND) and David Winslow (NA) are superb finds for the HBS backline, while Pascal Ambrosi (NF) brought his experience to bear on the game, which also saw good forward performances from Billy Soares (HMS), Jon Krautmann (NJ) and many others.
The history of B-games at the start of the season is a history of blow-outs. However, this was certainly not the case at Middlesex. The new team gelled well, allowed just one try, and went close to scoring on several occasions. The final score of HBS 0 – Middlesex 5 is a credit to the energy and skill of our new players and their more experienced teammates and augurs well for the season ahead.
After reading this you may wonder what life in the HBS Rugby Team is like?
The Fall semester in the RFC consists of four main activities:
1. Playing rubgy
We play in the local NERFU (New England Rugby Football Union) league and play against the other local grad schools (e.g. MIT) and local teams (e.g. Boston Irish Wolfhounds). For me, one of the great things about this league is the variety of teams we get to play- some will be a walk over, some will be a close run thing and others we don’t talk about!
The Rugby Club trains on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5.30pm (we will meet at Intramural field or at Shad if the weather is bad). Training consists of a mixture of ball skills, practice games and aerobic exercise. After two months I promise that you’ll be fitter than you’ve been for a very long time! Captain Mike Butville (OB) and President Lukkake ‘The Drunk Snorer’ Herbert (OE) will fight anyone who suggests otherwise…
3. Social activities (my personal favorite)
There is so much to say about rugby social events that I don’t know where to begin. At our first official rugby social (date to be confirmed once Jay ‘I love Las Vegas’ Klug (OE) recovers from his Bachelor party) new members will be taught the all important game of spoof (all key alcohol purchasing decisions are made using this ancient game) and the songs with which you will be able amaze and woo the ladies with. Women find nothing more attractive than a post-match sweaty, inebriated rugger who will sing them songs about their previous working life (when they used to work in Chicago) or their infamous Father Abraham (who had seven sons).
Word of advice: don’t bring your mother-in-law along.
4. Rugby Tours
This is a heady mix of activities 1 and 3. We play rugby and we drink. The only difference is that we’ll be doing this for a sustained 48 hour period rather than the odd Saturday afternoon.
Hope to see you out on the pitch soon.
HBS vs Middlesex:
1. Saul De La Guardia
2. Steve Evans
3. Jay Klug
4. Owen Stockdale
5. Baron Hanson
6. Carl Lavin
7. Joseph Tesvic
8. Mike Butville
9. Owain Hughes
10. Rafa Guida Masoni
11. Ben Stamets
12. Oliver Thomas
13. Koome Imathiu
14. Thomas Lefebvre
15. Terry Angelos