For the second time in as many weeks, the men’s rugby football club was forced to match its youth and speed against size and experience. Middlebury was hungry to avenge its sizable defeat by Williams last year, and managed to beat the White Dawgs 44-15.
The Middlebury side, with ten starting seniors and a significant number of experienced players from South Africa and New Zealand, posed the toughest conference test for the WRFC all season. Middlebury set the tempo from the opening whistle, using their superior size to maintain possession of the ball. However, fierce defense by the White Dawg backs led by Marc Barreda ’99 and John Crowley-Delman ’01 repeatedly drove Middlebury back.
Unfortunately, the Middlebury forwards were skilled enough to retain possession of the ball, and the sheer number of possessions allowed Middlebury to drive in several tries. But by the middle of the first frame, Williams began to show signs of life. The front row of Don Courtney ’99, Ben McAnaney ’01, and John Cale ’00 began to secure some hooks, and Ian Lewis ’01 made sure that J.J. Asarch ’00 and the backs received the ball.
When the line did get it they took advantage, as Barreda, Crowley-Delman, and Keil Mueller ’99 exploited holes in the Middlebury defense for long runs. The line supported well and nearing the end of the half were able to get the ball to Chido Alozie ’01 at wing, who burned through the Middlebury defense for a 60 meter run. Supporting was Crowley-Delman, and when the Middlebury fullback was able to get a hand on Alozie, he deftly found Crowley-Delman for the score.
In the second frame, the Middlebury backs began to find room, and time and again would pin the White Dawgs deep in their own territory with booming kicks. Line-out trouble continued to plague Williams, and Middlebury used this to its advantage to build a sizable lead.
With the game out of reach, the White Dawgs turned their focus to improving their level of play. Late in the game, this improvement began to materialize, as Williams began to move down the field as a team and win its rucks and mauls. Scrum captain John Pickard ’99 led the way, as did Kenny Marines ’01 and John Olson ’99. With the forwards winning the ball, the backs again spun it wide to Alozie, who responded with a brilliant 50 meter try. Conversion of the point-after and penalty kick by Mueller left the final score at 44-15 in favor of Middlebury.
In the B-side game, the youngest White Dawgs showed significant fire and improvement from the week before. Forwards and backs worked together on defense, holding the experienced Middlebury side to only two tries. Gabriel Anderson ’02, John Murnane ’02, Emmitt Tracy ’02, and Forrest Wittenmeier ’02 all made significant contributions.
As the 12-0 score indicates, the game was hotly contested, giving the WRFC confidence in the abilities of all its young players.
The WRFC sustained two unfortunate injuries as well, as Andrew Keating ’02, making his first A-side start, suffered a broken ankle early in the game, ending what was shaping up to be a great season.
In the B-side game, a scary delay ensued when a scrum collapsed and captain Christian Rubio ’99 was taken to a local hospital to evaluate a neck injury. The Record wishes those two athletes the best in their recoveries.