After spending spring break in England honing their rugby-related skills, men’s rugby made its glorious return to the pitch on Saturday to face off against the Trinity Winged-Donkeys. Trinity entered the day the clear favorite due to their triumph in last year’s game, significant size advantage and impressive uniforms. However, once the initial intimidation had worn off and the game was underway, the fancy clothing proved just as useful as wings on a donkey.
Over the course of 80 minutes, the White Dawgs repeatedly exploited weaknesses in the Winged Donkeys’ line, while maintaining strong scrum play to earn a 36-3 victory. By the end of the day, the White Dawgs had proven one thing conclusively: a donkey in a cool jersey is still just a donkey.
The White Dawgs came down to the pitch featuring a side that lacked experience playing together, but nevertheless the ruggers gelled well and went on to avenge last year’s defeat. Additions to the A-side Akil Pascal ’04, George “Shorty” Evans ’04 and Williamstown Elementary School recruit Zakariah “Fokker” Haviland ’04 all performed well in their debut. “My mom said that I get to play rugby today as long as I wear this neat little helmet and I don’t get dirty,” Haviland said in a pre-game interview, showcasing his enthusiasm for the game. All three players contributed strongly to the A-side cause.
The stiff wind and sub-arctic temperatures at game time suggested that the day would feature a large degree of scrum play, an area where Trinity held a clear size advantage. As the game progressed, the scrums did play a pivotal role in the outcome of the match, and it was the Williams scrummers that proved dominant.
Trinity’s attempts to deliver a scrum-led donkey kick were stifled by the Dawgs’ impressive defensive play, which was highlighted by stellar efforts from David “Lambhump” Brenninkmeyer ’03, Galen “Danger” Thorp ’04, Michael “Still Not a Player” Ebell ’03 and rugby shorts model Bill McGrath ’04.
In addition, Ebell aided the Dawgs’ cause by beating his opposition in every single lineout. “Some people think that playing this game is all about skill, teamwork and determination, but there is a whole lot more to it,” Ebell chose to share after the game. “I mean, girls in England really dig rugby players. I’m serious.”
The scoring by the White Dawgs was also scrum-centered, with senior captain Nick “Pokey” Brandt ’02, Tom “Blood” Kramer ’03 and hooker Ariel “Flounder” Zetlin-Jones ’04 playing leading roles. Hookers do not usually have opportunities to score in the game of rugby, and Zetlin-Jones’ two-try effort was truly remarkable.
Zetlin-Jones attributed his success to Friday night mat exercises performed on the floor of Armstrong basement. “You know a lot of people think that a Flounder is just some small foolish creature, but they say that about hookers too,” Zetlin-Jones remarked. “I think I will let my actions last night and today speak for themselves.”
Brandt had some theories about his success: “What it comes down to is that at any given time, I am the best player on the field.” When questioned about his second half assist to Scott “Silent Bob” Comstock ’02, Brandt replied “Silent who? I think we both know I scored that try.”
In the B-side game, the Winged Donkeys took flight when a first-half try gave them an early lead. The Killer Bs fought back hard, bringing the score to 5-3 at halftime by virtue of a Steve “ED” Rahl ’05 kick. As the game progressed, the Winged Donkeys repeatedly used their scrum and A-side players to try to break the resolve of the Killer Bs, only to be brutally denied. The defensive efforts of the Bs were led by strong performances by Neil “Noodle McFly” Hoffman ’04, Devin “Hakeem” Fitzgibbons ’04 and Gabe Anello ’03.
Throughout the second half, the Killer Bs outplayed Trinity, but simply could not overcome the stubborn Donkey defense as the game ended in a 5-3 loss. Although the Bs lost, the inferior skill of the Donkeys was apparent throughout the game in both the actions and the comments of the Killer Bs. After coming out of the game due to injury, Andrew “Psycho” Marks ’02 reported, “Those Donkeys just do terrible things with balls. It literally makes me feel sick.”
All in all, the day posted two strong opening performances for the rugby club and provided a solid base on which to build for the rest of the season.
Solid performances from both sides allowed the team to avenge last year’s loss and prepare for the remainder of the year. As the team enjoyed hot chocolate after the game with Haviland’s second grade class, everyone knew that the day had truly been a success.