Aiming to showcase its rugby prowess to teams from all over New England, the Williams Rugby Football Club (WRFC) ventured to Portsmouth, R.I. to compete in the 72nd annual “Beast of the East” Tournament.
The two-day event was structured in a peculiar, not-quite-double elimination format: teams were guaranteed two games, but only the second game was of consequence. Over 100 teams participated in the invitation-only tournament. Predictably, Amherst College was not present.
Upon arriving in Portsmouth, the White Dawgs felt confident that they would not only win the tournament outright, but also gain the intemperate fanaticism of greater New England. Despite a glaring lack of money shots, film viewed Friday night succeeded in rousing a Williams squad that had been off for two weeks.
Saturday brought warm weather and a familiar foe. Williams was pitted against the Three-Legged Donkeys of the University of Vermont (UVM) in their first match of the day. Having manhandled the Donkeys in the fall, the White Dawgs came into the game eager and cocky â€“ perhaps a little too cocky.
Leading 15-0 at the half, Williams lapsed somewhat in the second half, allowing UVM to pull within five points. The shortened tournament game length prevented Williams from exploiting the accustomed lack of fitness of the UVM ruggers. Yet, thanks to the strong scrum play of Thomas “Blood” Kramer ’03 and David “Lambhumper” Brenninkmeyer ’03, and the versatility of 14-year-old prodigy Zakariah “Piggy” Haviland ’04, the White Dawgs held on to win, 15-10.
Asked to reflect upon his team’s performance, captain Nicholas “Pokester” Brandt ’02 reflected, “You know, it takes more than one really tremendously talented rugby player to win games.” This writer was unsure what Brandt meant, but assumed he was stressing team play.
The WRFC’s next opponents were the Club-Footed Marmots of the Coast Guard. Apparently, the side was able to take a few days off from impeding illegal drug distributors and Cuban refugees to take part in the Beast of the East. Despite a blatant deficiency in social understanding and personal hygiene, the Marmots knew a thing or two about rugby. It was up to the White Dawgs to prove that they knew that crucial third thing.
Fierce rucking and gritty runs by football imports William “Bloodbath” McGrath ’04 and Tyler Shea ’04 kept Williams close throughout the match. Yet, the magical toe of Galen “Danger” Thorp ’04 was unable to overcome the seemingly endless number of scrum-downs and line-outs given to the Marmots.
By the game’s final whistle, Coast Guard had defeated the valiant Dawgs by a final count of 18-3. In related news, marijuana prices fell Sunday, to the lowest they have been since the Reagan administration.
“Impartiality is inversely proportional to the number of years I attended the Coast Guard Academy,” game referee Sammy Jankis commented. “If I had gone there, of course.” Tournament administrators later relieved Jankis of officiating duties, and revoked his MENSA card.
Although the disappointment of not advancing to the second day of competition was devastating, the White Dawgs eventually found redemption conveniently canned in 12-ounce receptacles.
However, Williams took its biggest blow of the weekend when doctors revealed that the “Asian Sensation,” Hyun Kun Kim ’02, had broken his ankle during the UVM game. Kim, an integral player and an upstanding citizen, will likely miss the remainder of the season. Brandt summarized everyone’s feelings when he lamented “back when I mentioned that tremendously talented rugger. . . I was talking about me.”
Get better, Kimmer.