Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield. The Barbarians of the Harvard Rugby Football Club played the part of both this past weekend at the World MBA Championships. Saturday the team definitely lived a bug’s life, as it played three matches; two were against opponents that ended up playing one another in the finals. The boys took first to the field against the sharp Smurfit team from Ireland, the reigning champions.
Tragedy struck in only a few minutes when Chris Staudt (OC) suffered an unfortunate broken leg. The event rattled the gents, and Smurfit capitalized on our loss by getting the ball out to their backs and into the try zone early and often in the first half. Halftime allowed us to regain our composure and mount a much more disciplined defense, but the polished Irish carried the game.
We looked forward to our second match of the day against Cornell as we thought them to be a more even match. I was particularly pleased that my mother could drive down from her home in Roanoke to watch the game. Hoping to get the team’s juices flowing, I asked her to say a few inspirational words to the boys. “Go out and *$%# those Cornell guys up!” she opined. “Stick your shoulders in their bellies and take those *&@#!&% out.” Indeed, Mom, indeed.
The game was truly a vicious battle of willpower. The Barbarians’ offense, anchored by the sure hands of Wen Wei Lo (FAS) and Tony Frangie (NB) tested Cornell’s defense again and again, but couldn’t break it. Spirited defense by Owen Stockdale (NI) and Jasper “Macho” Camacho (OC) held Cornell scoreless and the half closed zero all. Lady luck once again turned against us in the second half when we lost Steve “Winky” Emerson (OE) to a minor eye injury. Cornell capitalized and scored two fortuitous goals to carry the match.
The final match of Saturday had us face off against Ivie from Western Ontario. While no one can deny their considerable talents, let’s just say that the boys from north of the border were not afraid to push the limits of gentlemanly conduct. Scott “the new Krautmann” Pasquini (NF) politely offered to turn it into a two-for-one Rugby/Boxing match, until the referee intervened. Cutting to the chase, we lost to a very physical and talented team.
Sunday’s final match against Yale offered the second-year players the opportunity to close out their HBS rugby careers on a high note. The Barbarians played with fire and discipline as never before and continually drove against a Yale defense that managed to hold at the goal line time and time again.
Special notice should be given to the aggression of Nori Kodama (OE) as he punished the Yale players. Yet again, at half it stood 0-0. As the second half progressed our superior fitness began to wear down the opposition. Chris Webster (OF), played the game of his life with aggressive runs and pinpoint passing. “Lucky” Pierre Julien and “Quit looking at me” Quan Nguyen (NF) each threaded the defense to score and seal a hard fought victory.
The win capped a great season for the Barbarians — one in which many newcomers to the sport gained vital experience that will pay dividends next year for the A Side. Spirit and teamwork were the hallmarks of the team. Noted Rod Thompson, “This was the best semester I never had. If I choose not to go to school here again next year, I’ll definitely play for the RFC.”