Bri Kim (MS/MBA ’23) reports on the highly successful HBS Rugby spring seasons.
On Friday, April 8, the HBS women’s and men’s rugby teams set out for New York City to compete at the MBA Rugby World Cup, hosted by Columbia Business School. Overlooking the Hudson with a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline at Randall’s Island Park, both teams played all day Saturday in mostly sunny, warm conditions; the women competed in a touch format vs. Yale, Wharton, and LBS, and the men competed in a 15s format vs. Wharton, a combined CBS/Booth side, LBS, and a combined Yale/Stern side.
The women kicked off the day facing a familiar Wharton side from the fall and quickly showcased the hard work they had put into their weekly training sessions leading up to the weekend. Led by captain/coach Bri Kim (MS/MBA ’23), HBS played at an up-tempo pace, consistently keeping Wharton on the back foot, moving the ball seamlessly on attack and stretching its defense thin. HBS ran up the scoreboard, scoring twelve tries to one. There were too many try scorers to keep track of, but Kim applauded the performances from Olivia Graham, Sophie Westbrooke, and Marney Wood, as well as the work rates of Mariana Hernandez and Riya Chandaria (MBA ’23).
After just a half hour of rest, the women turned right back around to play a combined LBS/Wharton side. LBS boasted more previous rugby experience in its squad, making for a heated and much closer match. A quick but heavy rain shower that seemed to only last as long as the match itself added to the drama. After several long defensive stands led by Jordanne Stobbs-Vergara and Immie Hobby, HBS put the nail in the coffin with two barn-burning tries from Gabe Armstrong-Scott and Tori Berquist, ending the match 4-2.
HBS had all to play for in the last match vs. a combined Yale/LBS side, with the potential to go undefeated on the day and be crowned Women’s World Cup champions. With all men’s and women’s teams watching and cheering, the team shut out Yale/LBS, with a final score of 2-0, to take home the championship title!
Members of the victorious team include the following: Bri Kim, Riya Chandaria, Sophie Westbrooke, Jordanne Stobbs-Vergara, Gabe Armstrong-Scott, Tori Berquist, Mariana Hernandez, Olivia Graham, Immie Hobby, and Marney Wood. It is worthy to note that only four members of this team had previous rugby experience.
The men, captained by Andrew Steen (MBA ’23), saw a largely successful day, first playing a very physical game vs. Wharton. After Wharton converted a penalty kick, HBS countered with an aggressive try down the middle after successive forward phases. HBS had a huge defensive push at the end, holding their own in their own 22 to end the match, winning 7-3.
The second match against a mixed side of CBS and Booth proved to be an easier game to manage, as HBS dominated and showcased a back line firing on all cylinders. James Teti steamrolled through multiple defenders, shedding tackle after tackle, to score a beautiful try. Joe Murdy also showcased his kick and chase skills, fielding his own kick to touch it down in the try zone. HBS came out on top, 17-0. Two strong wins saw HBS to the championship vs. LBS. LBS ultimately proved to be too much, taking the title 20-0. HBS Men finished second on the day.
Though away from home, the teams were fortunate to have supportive fans on the sideline, namely recent alumni who also provided much needed player replacement when necessary. At the day’s end, former president and alumnus Scott Cara (MBA ‘21) presented MVP awards to Bri Kim and James Teti. Both teams headed to the post tournament social tired and sore, but happy and excited to celebrate the day’s successes in the city.
To finish out the year, the men’s team took the lessons from the World Cup and turned it around for a home match at Mignone Field vs. Wharton the following weekend. It was the perfect spring day in Boston—sunny without a cloud in the sky, and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Playing in front of a crowd of about 75 fans, HBS played aggressively from the get go. Though the start was marked with too many dropped balls, HBS settled down and finally found a smooth rhythm. Final score was 13-0, giving plenty for the team to celebrate. A post match social was held at 730 Tavern and Middlesex, proving to be a perfect end to the year.
Both teams are looking for 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.