The sun shined brightly on the WRFC’s opening spring match against Trinity College. The White Dawgs had learned much from four brutal losses to English club teams over the break. The Brits played a more fluid game in which all the players on the field seemed able to play any position. The White Dawgs had their tackling and defensive strategies put to the test. In the process they learned how so stick together, playing with pride and energy even when the final outcome was disappointing. When the WRFC arrived at Trinity, they brought an intense desire to win. Fueling the fire was the appearance of the overconfident Trinity players who showed up with matching nylon jumpsuits and team bags.
Brad Whiteman ‘98 got the ball rolling with a fierce attack on the Trinity scrum. The Dawgs kept great possession of the ball in rucks and mauls, as Jason Mitrakos ‘98 and Joon Lee ‘98 quickly broke loose and supported the lines’ swift running. Unfortunately, the scrumdowns failed to come together as the White Dawgs tried to put together passing that proved too fancy for the first game.
A beautifully unselfish pass back-inside from Keil Mueller ‘99 sent the ball into the hands of power runner Paul Bethe ‘00 who punched his way into the try zone. Trinity answered quickly, finding a hole in the defense and scoring on a long run. The Dawgs battled back after some dropped passes and sloppy penalties. Led by the classic dodging try-work of Dan Anello ‘98, the team created space on the line with spin moves and straight arms that few teams could contain. Again Trinity answered, scoring on a lost scrumdown at center field humiliating the Dawg pack. At halftime, Trinity led 12-10 despite the Dawgs controlling the ball for most of the first half.
The WRFC knew what had to be done. Digging down deep, Arjuna Sunderam ‘00 and Matt Libbey ‘98 got lower and tighter and the scrumdowns began working like clockwork. The line started making perfect sets that significantly helped in keeping possession. Trinity gave up a rucking penalty which allowed Bethe to score a kick, giving the Dawgs the lead. Jose Palma ‘98 took the ball weakside to Ilja Elle ‘98 who hurtled over his opposite wing for a try. The onslaught began as the Dawgs scored on two more hard fought tries that involved nearly every player on the field. The Dawgs saw the beginnings of a new and harmonious 15-man game. Trinity exited the pitch, losing 30-15 to a WRFC team that only looks to improve.
The B-side game promised to be a joy for all those involved. Many new White Dawgs played their first game ever and many veterans tried out the new positions they had always secretly coveted. Understandably, the first half was a bit confusing. The Killer-Bs came very close to scoring a couple of times as the brilliant Nick Waugh ‘00 cut outside of Dan Bubb ‘01 to find holes in the Trinity defense. Seizo Mazer ‘98 darted for a 30 yard gain that got everyone’s enthusiasm pumping. Trinity took advantage of the penalties committed by the new players and scored a try and a kick. However, the Dawgs job was not finished.
Refusing to give in, the White Dawgs came out big in the second half as Joe Seevy ‘01 barreled into the try zone. The B-side rucked its way down field with hard hitting from Loren Tanz ‘98 and Donel Courtney ’98, whose pre-season weight-training proved invaluable. Joe Sensenbrenner ‘00 ran a weak side play and made a difficult pass to Dave Navins ‘00 who scored his first try. The powder perfect kicking of Ryan Kurlinski ‘01 gave the Killer-Bs the lead as 13-12. They held onto the lead due to daring tackling from Andrew Jawa ‘98, who stopped Trinity at the try line again and again.
Dejected, Trinity entered their A-side players for the C-side game and barely came away with their only victory of the day. Screaming joyously on the sideline, Trinity could finally say, “yeah, these jumpsuits really do make us a sweet team.”
The Rugby team is now preparing for the Beast of the East Tournament to be held in Providence next weekend.