The Harvard Business School rugby team traveled up to Stowe, VT on November 3, not for a booze-fueled retreat, but for the New England Men’s Championship. The team would earn its social later that night in Tommy Doyle’s, however, beating Saratoga Men’s Rugby Club from Saratoga, NY and Mad River from Stowe in the semi-final and subsequent final to emerge victorious.
The team arrived to a pitch that was covered in frost and a temperature below freezing. The first match, against Saratoga, was a well-fought affair, with a very professional and competitive opponent, but in the end Harvard’s athleticism and skill allowed it to overcome. The team was without Co-Captain Jeff “Man Mountain” Todd (HLS) for the day and his Herculean efforts at prop, but was determined to make its mark just the same. The team put in 3 tries in the first half, beginning with a score off solid forward play, as Neil Campbell (OD) took the ball into the tackle and dished to Jeff “That 70’s Show” Miller (KSG) for a try. The next try was almost as beautiful as Brendan “Fan Favorite” Whitworth’s (OJ) golden locks – HBS stole a scrum at its own 15-meter line, Miller raced through a gap and passed to Whit, who dished to Liam “Sweet Pea” Patrick (OC) – Liam beat a defender and passed back to Whitworth for the try. “Champagne rugby!” shouted ex-Cambridge University captain Chris “heart o’ gold” Trimble (KSG). Patrick scored the third try, touching down on a pass from Miller. HBS went into the half up 19-0.
The second half showcased more of the same from HBS, as the forwards rucked hard over the ball and the backs used their speed to round the corners and shoot through gaps. Jeff Miller put another in the try zone, finishing off a long march down the field by HBS. Craig “Hi!” Canton (OJ) capitalized on more excellent forward play, grabbing the ball and carrying defenders in for the try. Patrick scored HBS’ final try of the match, getting around his opponent off a penalty to touch down in the corner. Saratoga was able to put one in just before the match ended, but Harvard was through to the final, 38-7.
Al “Barnacle Bill” Rowe (OD), club Co-President, said of the semi-final, “the forward pack dominated the rucks, enabling 4-5 phases of play before feeding the ball to the backs. The opponents were sucked in, and unable to stop the fast paced action the backs threw at them”
Harvard then faced Mad River in the final, as they had expected all along – they had finished #2 to HBS over the regular season matches. Mad River was hungry to avenge an earlier loss, and they featured a very large forward pack – boys who made HBS’ big men, Joel “Enforcer” Hartel (NB) and Craig Canton, almost look small. But Atsushi “Atsushi Bear” Oshiba (OF) was not scared – he shouted, “Watashi ha Samurai! Nanimo Osorenai!!!!” The translation, unfortunately, has been lost over time, but it was inspiring. Two stalwarts of the HBS team, Chris Trimble and Marco “Italian Stallion” Di Falco (NG) returned from injury for the game – or at least played through their injuries, as Trimble’s rib was still broken.
Mad River came out hard, and their rolling mauls were a force to be reckoned with – they soon scored, putting them up 5-0. But HBS came right back, and Oshiba, taking the ball at his own 5-meter line, outran several defenders to free Liam Patrick on the corner. Patrick beat two players and passed to Brendan Whitworth, who turned on the speed and took the ball the rest of the way for the score. The Harvard back line would team up again in the half, as Brendan Whitworth dummied a switch to Patrick, passed out to Miller at fullback who put it to Evan “Big Hits” Engstrom (HLS), and Engstrom muscled his way over the defender and in. Halftime, HBS up 12-5. According to Di Falco, “HBS ha giocato con cuore, intelligenza e classe.”
HBS came out hard in the second half, and nearly scored in the first minute out. Randy “The Animal” Goldstein (ND) was playing like a beast, bringing to the ground Mad River forwards who must have weighed 600 pounds. But after some back and forth play, the referee came out with an intentional obstruction call on Atsushi Oshiba, putting him in the sin bin and forcing HBS to play a man down. Mad River took advantage, overcoming fierce resistance by the HBS defense and scoring, but they missed the conversion and the margin remained at 2 points.
With Oshiba back after 10 minutes, HBS began to press again, but soon another Harvard player found himself in the sin bin, as Brendan Whitworth was penalized for a late hit – though later examination of the tape revealed no such offense. Bewildered, HBS had to regroup and direct its frustration to its opponent, and again put up a terrific goal line stand. But Mad River finally took a bit of luck and were able to get the ball into the try zone, putting them up 15-12 www.replicabestsale.co.uk.
Whitworth came back into the game with only five minutes to go, and the situation was looking dire for HBS. Yet they rose to the occasion, and were able to take the game away. With only 3 minutes left, Oshiba took a perfect pass from scrum half Mark “Koala” De Ambrosis (OF) and the ball went down the line to Whitworth, Miller, Patrick, and then to the mighty Sean “Meatstick” Eldridge (NE). Eldridge gained 20 meters but encountered two defenders with 10 meters to go. With a stiff arm and a spin move harkening back to his lacrosse days, however, Eldridge was able to beat them both, and put the ball down heroically for the try. A raucous HBS celebration ensued, but there was still time on the clock. Patrick slotted the kick from the corner to put HBS up by 4.
HBS took the kickoff and, rather than hanging back on their heels, attacked again, and Chris Trimble rumbled down into a tackler and passed from the ground to Oshiba, who touched down for yet another score. Then, with only moments left, HBS took the next kickoff and countered wide, with forwards Joel Hartel and Dave “Reliable” Fielding (OD) showing remarkable hands and passing off to Jeff Miller, who isolated the last defender and gave the ball to Whitworth to put the game beyond any doubt. 33-15, and HBS had established that it would fight to the end.
Co-Captain Liam Patrick said, “We demonstrated the character of this team by staying composed and coming back the way we did. I thought some of our first-year players came up big today, rising to the occasion with remarkable performances tag heuer replica for sale . We made it our goal to win this coming in, and we have – but we still have work to do in order to reach our ultimate goal at Duke.”
Said Mark De Ambrosis, club Co-President, “This was the most disciplined HBS rugby showing to date – a really mature performance despite some questionable refereeing, tough physical conditions and an opposition that looked as old as Jeff Todd does. Also, I appreciate the team crowd surfing me at TD’s that night.”
Rowe added, “Mad River played solid, bone-crushing, in-your-face rugby breitling superocean replica, running the ball off the sides of the rucks. It was our toughest test of the season, and we showed the strength and discipline needed to win. We will need the same stuff if we are to beat University College of Dublin (Smurfit) in the spring.”
As mentioned, HBS retired to Tommy Doyle’s to celebrate their hard-fought wins and for some “craic agus ceoil,” according to John James “Prince of Ireland” Lacy (OD). And celebrate they did.