Bri Kim (MS/MBA ’23) reports on the successful and busy season both teams have enjoyed on and off the pitch, with several important matches left before the semester’s end.
Brianna Kim, Contributor
After a highly successful spring 2022 season, the HBS Rugby Club eagerly awaited kicking off the new school year. Captained by Andrew Steen (JD/MBA ’23) and Brianna Kim (MS/MBA ’23), the men’s and women’s teams sought to create more momentum through replenished recruitment across both RC and EC classes and other Harvard grad schools. The men’s team plays 15-a-side full contact and the women’s team plays touch. The club had just a month to get new players up to speed and everyone aligned before the first event of the season, Hogfest, the annual tournament hosted at Wharton.
The weekend of October 1, the club traveled to Philadelphia sporting its sleek gear sponsored by long-term partner Breitlane, a healthcare recruiting company founded by an HBS alumnus based in Hawaii. The women’s team had two matches versus Wharton and Yale, and the men’s team had two matches versus a combined NYU/Stern side and Yale.
The women were up first against Wharton and quickly showcased their speed and ball movement. Rookie Linda Ding (MBA ’24) scored first, making a fantastic debut on the weekend. Experienced players from last year anchored the side; Riya Chandaria’s (MBA ’23) critical passes kept the ball movement consistent and flowing and Tori Berquist had multiple runs streaking up the sideline.
Final score vs. Wharton: 5-0.
The women played Yale next, with the championship title on the line. Kelly LaBuff (MBA ’23) made her debut for HBS, but showed off her prior rugby experience, sending high kickoffs into the air, leading Yale stumbling to collect themselves. Mariana Hernandez had a terrific run down the sidelines, creating pivotal momentum, and Gabe Armstrong-Scott had many line breaks and excellent defensive efforts, catching everyone with her speed. The women overcame Yale 2-0, clinching the tournament title and keeping their undefeated streak alive.
The men’s team went 1-1 at Hogfest, but had a solid showing regardless. The first match vs. a joint CBS/NYU Stern side was a hard-fought, physical battle where the men lost by one try and had the ball deep in the attacking half as time expired. The team featured a large number of rookies, and came out with a high level of aggression and intensity, but were their own worst enemy with penalties.
In the second match, the men completely dominated Yale and had very impressive showings from newcomers Ken Sullivan (MBA ’23) and Oscar Boochever (man of the match), scoring their first ever tries. Ben Morgan scored his first try as a member of the HBS Rugby team, and other first-time players Duncan Hamilton (MBA ’23), Alex Leider (MBA ’24), Dakota Plesa (MBA ’24), and Tony Giori (MBA ’23) put forth outstanding shifts. The team beat Yale by five tries, and are very much looking forward to the rematch the weekend of Harvard-Yale. Both teams showed a lot of promise and potential to carry out the rest of the year, and everyone certainly had a blast during the Hogfest tournament, as well as the post-match festivities.
Alumni Weekend, HOTP
After a weekend filled with rugby and celebration, both teams quickly got back to practice and refocused on things they needed to improve post-Hogfest, but the club also needed to quickly shift focus off the pitch as well. 30 HBS rugby alumni returned to Boston for alumni weekend and the Fall Classic. It was a busy weekend with a Friday reception, Saturday matches, topped off with a garden gnome-themed pub crawl. The current HBS side won the alumni match by a large margin, but the alumni won the drink-up. Celebrating nostalgia and making new memories, the HBS Rugby legacy has grown stronger from that weekend.
The club most recently focused its efforts on hosting the Halloween on the Pitch party, which was a sellout and resounding success. There was a large HBS crowd, but there were significant turnouts from other Harvard grad schools as well. The club would like to thank everyone for coming out and being a part of a new tradition, and Fathi-Alexandre de Souza Abid (MBA ’23) for planning an unforgettable party.
Support the teams at home this month!
Two matches remain in the fall season for the men’s team, while just one match remains for the women. The men will be taking on MIT in a local rivalry match at home on Mignone Field, Wednesday, November 9 at 7pm. Please come out and support! The final matches of the season will be at home on Friday, November 18 at Cumnock Field #3 vs Yale at 6 pm. The Harvard-Yale rugby rivalry will kick off the momentous Harvard/Yale weekend and will feature both the men’s and women’s teams looking to extend their undefeated streak versus Yale. Please come out and show your support at these matches—there will be post-game festivities to follow!
The club would like to thank their long-term sponsor, Breitlane, for their unwavering support. Breitlane has been instrumental in supporting the gear for the club, as well as enabling successful club planning. The Rugby Club looks to host the HBS 7s tournament in the spring as well as return to the MBA World Cup so the women can defend their title and so the men can avenge their second-place finish.
Both teams are always welcoming new recruits from any Harvard school—absolutely no prior experience is required! Please email women’s president Riya Chandaria (firstname.lastname@example.org) or men’s president Valentin Shanahan (email@example.com) if interested.
Brianna Kim (MS/MBA ’23) captains and coaches the women’s touch rugby team at HBS. She is a former USA Rugby national team player who currently does television sideline reporting and color commentary analysis for Major League Rugby, the men’s professional rugby union league in North America.