The HBS Rugby Football Club sent two full squads to compete at the MBA Rugby World Championships at Duke University on April 18 & 19. HBS had trained hard all spring for the tournament including frequent ‘stadiums’ and tune up matches with Cambridge (UK), London Business School (UK), a couple of Brazillian teams over spring break, MIT (MA), and NYU (NY). By the time they reached Carolina, the HBS ruggers were fit as a fiddle and itching to board and keel-haul their rapscallion competitors!
The B-side started off strong against Cornell putting together some great attacking moves and were rewarded with the first try of the game. Cornell hit back quickly by taking advantage of the Harvard defense’s distraction during their rousing rum and sea shanty routine. Cornell then took the lead by successfully booting in the conversion. The remainder of the game was a stalemate, much like the epic maritime battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor, up until the dying minutes. As full time approached, Harvard sprung a backline break that pushed Cornell back to their try line and it appeared that the go-ahead score was imminent. However, in the end they where unable to breach Cornell’s defense and ended up losing 7-5.
The second B-side game against the highly skilled red-bearded pirates of University College Dublin was a formidable challenge. Dublin had won eight of the last ten championships, and was determined to punish the swashbuckling Harvard side. Harvard showed some signs of brilliance, made some strong tackles, and forced the Irish to fight for all their points but came up on the short end of the stick, losing 43-0.
Next up was the A-side versus the Wharton B’s. ÿThe game found HBS at the preferable end of the pointy stick, and the pirates dominated in all phases of play with a 48-0 victory. Strong play by the big boys in the front-row, Alex ‘I’m not Chris Farley’ Somers (ND), Seth Ross (OB) and Joel Hartel (OB) ensured that all line-outs and scrums were secured. Forward open-field play was highlighted by the dominant running of Chris Trimble (HKS), Joe Harrington (HLS) and Ben Reno-Weber (OX). ÿThe backs played equally as well with epic tries scored by Sean Eldridge (OE) and Curt Willener (OJ). Scrumhalf James Joun (ND) and winger extraordinaire Kevin O’Boyle (NG) linked up twice for blind-side scores. The game was soured, however, with the loss of James ‘peg-leg’ Joun who was sidelined for the rest of the tournament.
Strong A-side play continued against McGill with the A-side securing a 53-0 victory. The forwards feasted on the smaller Canadian (bacon) pack, while the backs played a beautiful, flowing form of pirate rugby. ÿDoug Haber (NE) highlighted the offensive onslaught with multiple tries and clearly exhibited no residual effects from a severe hand infection (likely caused by the scurvy infected blade of the young maiden he had accosted the evening prior). ÿ
With these two dominant victories, the A-side secured a #1 seed heading into elimination play.
HBS first faced the same Cornell side that had narrowly dispatched the B-side earlier in the day. ÿThe match was evenly played until Doug Haber (NE) cut through the Cornell backline like a buccaneer’s sword through butter that had been on deck all afternoon. Meanwhile, the forwards mauled their opposing numbers led by the brilliant buccaneer Alex Somers who highlighted his day with strong rucking and an incredible propensity to snarl opening kickoffs despite his disarming pirate charm. ÿAfter halftime, the HBS dominated the game, adding two more tries by Sean Eldridge and Chris Trimble, and bringing the final score to 17-5. The mermaids of the deep were signing their sweetest song for the HBS ruggers, who were catapulted forward in the quarterfinal match!
The quarterfinal match pitted HBS against Columbia Business School. ÿColumbia had advanced after a thoroughly physical domination of Kellogg and looked to continue their physical play against HBS. ÿThe game started off slowly for HBS as the forwards encountered velocity difficulties when faced with the superior mass of the Columbia forward pack, which averaged 16.4 stone per player. ÿMeanwhile, the fleet-footed HBS backs were winning the match up against their opposite numbers, until Columbia’s flyhalf broke through and offloaded to the wing. ÿWith Harvard down 10-0 at half, a stirring halftime speech from Chris Trimble helped HBS regain its rhythm and control play. ÿThe forwards used their superior technique to win many of Columbia’s scrums and lineouts. Finally, Captain Chris Trimble took a quick tap penalty and shed 4 tackles on his way to scoring a 25 meter try. ÿOnly three points down, HBS retained possession and looked to score the game-winning try. In a cruel trick of fate, King Neptune and the fish-oil on the Columbia player’s backsides led to poor HBS tackling and a game ending Columbia score, sealing the game at 17-7. ÿWith the loss, HBS was knocked out of contention for the championship but was now poised to face Wharton’s A-side in the consolation pool.
The game against Wharton started terribly for HBS as two controversial refereeing decisions enabled Wharton to gain 40 meters and score in the opening minutes of the game. ÿThe combination of fatigue, injury and the spells of the mermaids of the deep (who had inexplicably changed their allegiances of a few short hours prior) allowed Wharton to score another try minutes thereafter. ÿHowever, tournament MVPs Alex Somers, Kevin O’Boyle, and Chris Trimble led a stirring comeback. ÿHBS went to score its first try when Chris Trimble marauded the sideline on a lung-busting run that led to a score. Sean Eldridge, Curt Willener, Patrick Dickenson (OB), and Doug Haber continued to levy hits against the Wharton backs and then linked together to score a try. The rest of the game was a close-fought battle of thrust and parry, but HBS could not find a way to score against Wharton. The game ended with HBS losing by a score of 15-7, being eliminated for 8th place in the 2009 MBA World Rugby Championship. ÿ
As the pirates returned to HBS, they knew that their quest for championship booty had been thwarted, but the memories of a wonderful attempted pillaging brought smiles to their faces. Off into the sunset they sail, but remain vigilant, for in the fall of 2009 the HBS Rugby pirates will once again take to the high seas! Stay tuned for more of their swashbuckling adventures.
As always, HBS Rugby would like to thank its sponsors – Tommy Doyle’s, Harpoon Brewery, and Flexall for a wonderful season.