Following a season opening 24-0 win over Rutland, HBS Rugby played its home opener on Saturday, September 13th versus MIT. On a day very similar to last week’s hot and muggy game, HBS Rugby looked to improve on it’s first performance.
Missing several key players, including Co-Captain Joel Hartel (OB), HBS leaned heavily on its newest members to take on an MIT side that made the Division III playoffs last year. This was made more difficult by the fact that the neighboring schools have nearly identical jerseys, increasing the confusion on both sides.
HBS Rugby came out flat and was promptly pinned on its try line as MIT spent the first fifteen minutes of the game trying to score. Solid defense from Harvard, led by Anthony Bangay (NG) and Evan Engstrom (HLS) frustrated MIT’s early efforts. Harvard regrouped, and play became more fluid as the ball moved up and down the pitch. MIT opened the scoring when their flyhalf exploited an overlap. However, Harvard continued to battle, and just before the end of the first half, Sean Eldridge (OE) had a brilliant breakout run from deep in Harvard’s end. Brought down short of the try line, Eldrige passed out of the tackle to Engstrom, who then passed to Mike Lloyd (HLS) who dove in for the score. Doug Haber (NE) converted the attempt to make the score HBS 7, MIT 5 going into the half. Haber also made a try-saving tackle that kept MIT from taking the lead.
Resolved to improve its performance, HBS made adjustments and came out much improved in the second half. With better rucking and aggressive pressure, Harvard began to play flowing rugby. Harvard matched MIT’s second breakaway score and conversion when the forwards successfully ran several phases deep inside MIT’s end. With the forwards confusing and stretching MITs defense, scrum half Jimmy Joun (ND) passed to Haber, who faked a pass and an MIT defender out of his shoes, running inside for the score. With the score tied at 12 each and time running out, Harvard would need a superior effort to win the game. After the referee penalized MIT deep in HBS’ end, Bangay took advantage of the momentary confusion to quickly put the ball back into play, running through MIT’s defense. While being tackled, he passed to Co-Captain Chris Trimble (KSG), who completed the run by brutally stiff-arming the last defender on his way to touching down between the goal posts. HBS’ defense held for the last ten minutes, and the team celebrated its second victory in as many weeks. Haber was named man of the match for his outstanding play.
The day was not over, as HBS Rugby then played a B-game against Tufts, giving many players their first taste of rugby, an important part of the team’s mission. The new players showed that they had taken their first two weeks of instruction to heart, giving the Tufts team everything they could handle. Every Harvard player got a chance to play. The game featured defense and rucking, as well as outstandingly tough tackling by Curt Willener (OJ). The team would like to extend a special thanks to Mike Rush (HBS ’72) for refereeing the game on an emergency basis.
For its next game, HBS Rugby will play North Shore RFC on Saturday, September 20th at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, MA.
The HBS Rugby Team is always looking for new players. The club practices and plays both semesters and this year has tours to London, Montreal, Arizona, Wharton School of Finance and the MBA Rugby World Cup at Duke University. If you want to be a member of the most competitive sports team in the Harvard Graduate Community contact club president Randy Goldstein at email@example.com.
As always, the Harvard Business School Rugby Football Club would like to thank our sponsors: The Boston Consulting Group and Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub.