Trophy is wrested from defending champions HBS-A in a nail-biting finish; HBS-B posts best performance ever in an MBA tournament.
Philadelphia, October 7 – After a dominating run through the round-robin league of the 2006 Hogfest MBA Rugby Tournament hosted by Wharton, two-time defending champions HBS-A met their match in Wharton-A. The team had been waiting for redemption for a long time-so much so that rumors began to circulate that Wharton was about to begin charging HBS an outsourcing fee for having to manage what had become an HBS tour-de-force.
On the other side, the HBS-B side, better known as the Barbarians, had arguably its finest run ever, finishing among the top four teams, beating out the A sides of Cornell, Columbia and NYU Stern.
In what must be an unprecedented occurrence in recent times, the Barbarians, finishing fourth, drew HBS A, who finished first, for the semi-final match. The Barbarians bowed out at that point and allowed Columbia in. In turn, Columbia was soundly thrashed by HBS-A. Notable performances from the Barbarians’ included those by John James Lacy (ND), Rafa Soto (NF), Matthew Commons (OD), Anthony Frangie (OB) and Gilles Raveaud. The latter two went on to score their Zulu tries in the course of round-robin matches and celebrated the same in classical rugby tradition with a run around the field in their birthday suits. Led by Dave Burt (OI), the Barbarians played a gritty and gutsy brand of rugby to make the HBS RFC proud, with a win against Wharton-B (12-0) and a draw against Columbia (10-10).
HBS-A had a dream run through the pool matches, with emphatic wins against Cornell (21-5), NYU Stern (65-0) and Columbia (41-0). After a night of nursing injuries and drowning them in beer with the cool air of the Philadelphia night (ask the boys about the Walnut Walk for more details), the weary A-side boys trotted onto the field to face a fresh and hungry Wharton-A in what turned out to be one of the most nail-biting matches ever seen. The tide turned from one side to another more than a few times, eliciting gasps and cheers from the observers and many a nervous jitter from those keeping score.
The HBS A-side took an early lead in the first half, with a try and a conversion to go up 7-0. Wharton-B came back strongly, with what was a slightly suspect steal of the ball to score a try (5 points), and then went up ahead with a penalty kick to a slender 8-7 lead which they tenaciously held. Remarkable performances by RCs Craig “The Tank” Canton (NJ), who played in all games for both the A and B side, and Liam “Wilkinson” Patrick, who had another amazing run with penalty kicks and conversions, gave the ECs tremendous confidence in the strength of the newer RFC members. In an after-match interview with an emotional Flint Macgregor (OE), the co-captain said, “There were a number of factors which I think helped Wharton, including their numerous substitutes; our fatigue from playing too many games; the fact that we didn’t alter our game plan when our rucks started getting dominated by their fresher forwards; unnecessary handing over of possession during other phases of play; and possibly that we got complacent after winning by such large margins in the prior games.”
Stephane Heuze (OB), who was forced to sit out of the game due to an injury, added, in his typical pithy fashion, “When two teams are at their best, some little details make the difference.”
After an exhausting but fun tournament, the HBS RFC is gearing up to make an attempt for the NERFU (New England Rugby Football Union) Division III playoffs, which, if successful, will be another first for the club.