Regent’s Park, LONDON – While for many the President’s Day weekend was a chance to fly to an exotic beach resort or carve up the icy New England slopes, for the Harvard Business School Rugby team it was the opportunity to defend its Investec London Business School (LBS) Rugby Challenge Title in Old England-an annual tournament that sees rugby teams from MBA schools across the globe compete at their best. As the reigning title holders, co-captain’s Stephane “Bleu Cheese” Heuze (OB) and Flint “Meat Pies” MacGregor (OE) knew that nothing less than victory was required. However, the competition proved up to the task, and HBS came home runners-up after a tough 15-13 loss at the hands of the University College Dublin Smurfit School of Business, who are the reigning World Champions from the Duke MBA World Championships.
Drawn into the same pool as Smurfit and the LBS B-side, the team knew that the early round would be no walk in the park. Yet only two minutes into the first game against the highly touted Smurfit team, Mark “Aussie” De Ambrosis (NF), with pin point precision, deceptively turned what the Smurfit defense thought to be a clearance punt into a sideways positional kick which was latched onto by John “Anger Management” Doran (OB), who then found an open man in Mark “G” Wayshak. Quickly, it was 7-0 to HBS and a very positive start to the tournament. Late in the half, Smurfit scored under dubious circumstances, with one of their forwards seemingly in an illegal blocking position. The second half was again neck and neck, but an overlap try sealed the victory for Smurfit 12-7. The second pool game saw the HBS A-side back to its usual self, with a resounding 27-0 victory over the LBS B-side. Tries to Heuze, Wayshak, Dave “Tank” Fielding (ND) in the first half, Brendan “Boy Band” Whitworth (NJ) and Quan “Myagi” Nguyen (OF) in the second half, set the team up for a Semi-Final appearance against the undefeated LBS A-side.
Seeking revenge for a well documented history of narrow defeats at the hands of the HBS rugby team, the LBS A-side was ready for battle. Little were they aware that we had strategically rested our trump card, @sushi “Johnny Wilkinson” Oshiba (NF), and he not only led the team to a hard fought victory, he was also later recognized by the tournament referees as Harvard’s Most Valuable Player for the tournament. The game was scoreless at half time, but early into the second half LBS took the lead 3-0 from a penalty kick; and it was only in the dying stages of the game that the scoreboard technicians needed to move a muscle. A smooth backline move put Doran in the clear as he drew in a number of defenders and handed the pass off to Jeff “Gladiator” Todd (HLS), who carried two Brits into the try zone to seal the victory.
Now to the moment you’ve been waiting for, the result of the Grand Final between Smurfit and HBS. Easily the best rugby displayed over the weekend, both sides tussled back and forth for the lead, with the score at half time a close 6-5 to HBS with both penalty goals coming from the steady boot of Liam “Reverse Polish” Patrick (NC). The second half opened with a huge positive to the HBS team, as Doran was able to side step his own countrymen in what looked like a production of Riverdance to score HBS’ first try of the match. With the conversion secured, HBS held a healthy 13-5 lead. However, the Irish spirit was not easily contained, and after a penalty goal and a series of line raids resulting in a converted try, Smurfit regained the lead in the dying stages 15-13, signaling some reverse deja vu for the HBS team. An audacious attempt to single handedly beat five defenders by Brendan “Ken doll” Whitworth in the final play of the game was not enough to turn the tide. On a positive note, the game was played with great sportsmanship, and the Smurfit boys have given the green light to Craig “I’m not from” Canton (NJ) to transfer schools on request from their fairer classmates.
The Social Side of Rugby
Rugby is more than just a smash mouth sport. It brings people together in celebration. And this year, no tournament has done that better than the planning of LBS and HBS’ Matt Commons (OD). For the 39 ruggers that made their way across the Atlantic, it was a weekend of tough rugby and even tougher socializing. The cultural aspects included a tour of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) and the sightseeing involved a visit to London. Even more social were the interactions with the other teams, namely the Smurfit’s women’s team, which occurred at several locations-Windsor Pub (the bar that supports LBS), a tournament dinner in Piccadilly Circus, and drinks at Club OnAnon. Of course, Sunday night was HBS ruggers’ night out, as the team dined at the Slug and Lettuce Pub before moving off to Pitcher and Piano in search of London’s posh Sunday nightlife. All in all, it was a grand time. Led by Scott “Bakula” Pasquini (OF), John “Holmes” Lacy III (ND), and Edgar Allan “Poe” Rowe (ND), the team was able to capture the imaginations of various Brits with their knee slides, physiques, and senses of humor. However, the rugby team will get back at it with Duke on their minds-Respect all, fear none, Duke ’07.