A beautiful Saturday afternoon, a wide stretch of green grass, and an historic rivalry dating back to the turn of the century: the stage was certainly set for a thrilling contest.
After losing to the University of Vermont last fall, the Williams Rugby Football Club came back to rout its Northern foes the following spring.
Determined not to repeat last fall’s mistakes, the Williams A-side showed up ready to win, and win it did.
Victory came in spite of some gaps in the WRFC starting side. Sophomore sensations Emmet Tracy and Forrest Wittenmeir were nursing wounds, while jumping junior Nat Davis had simply wandered off and not returned in time for the game. In fairness, UVM was missing its star enforcer, known only as “Rhino,” who was mercifully injured in a fight with one of his own players. He still attended the game to coach the UVM B-side and model the latest English fashions.
Vermont arrived too late for the 1 p.m. start time, so the game was pushed back one half-hour. Still, UVM never looked quite ready to deliver the proverbial goods, and from the opening kickoff the fierce but friendly men of the WRFC pinned their opponents near their try zone.
Precision rucking by the A-side pack retained possession for the wily Williams backs, eventually leading to a thundering try by Chidozie Alozie ’01.
Though UVM’s play did not improve considerably at any point in the contest, a slip up in the Williams line allowed a UVM player to score a try, the hosts’ only points of the game.
The game tied up at five points apiece, Williams faced the prospect of going into halftime even with its intense rival. As captain Paul Bethe ’00 later said, “If the half had ended when the score was 5-5, then we would have been tied with UVM. I would not have liked that very much.”
Luckily, Ryan Kurlinski ’01 put through a penalty kick before the whistle, and the half ended with the Dawgs up 8-5. The second half saw the WRFC pull decisively with an absolutely superb try by Bethe, and the conversion easily put through by Kurlinski.
Kurlinski’s sure foot powered the ball through the uprights once more before all was said and done, as the Williams College Rugby Football Club retired to the sidelines having won the game 18-5.
Unfortunately, the B-side could not make it a clean sweep. Leaving many of their A-siders in, the Vermont still found it difficult to power past the rugby prodigies they faced. Valiant play by veterans Jeffrey Macey ’00 and Nicholas Brandt ’02 was not enough to bring home the bacon for the B’s.
Even though sophomore Andy Herr was able to slap in a penalty kick, Williams could not match UVM’s try, falling 7-3.
Next week, the A-Dawgs look to continue their unbeaten streak with a win over Keene State, while the B’s will keep pressing for that elusive first win.
According to Captain Bethe, “A win next week would be good for the team, and the people that play on the team. And that’s what we are looking for.”