There were ups. There were downs. There were four lead changes in all. But, at the conclusion of the emotional roller coaster that was the Williams-Amherst rugby match, the White Dawgs emerged victorious, 45-26. As is tradition, the Williams Rugby Football Club (WRFC) stripped the Black Donkeys of their precious practice jerseys, cherished by the Amherst ruggers as second only to their real game jerseys.
The game got off to an inauspicious start as Amherst punched in a try within five minutes of the opening whistle. Yet Williams came roaring back, scoring twice to take the lead, 12-5. Gritty scrum play by Andrew “Raid” Keating ’02 and Thomas “Bludd” Kramer ’03 contributed to the Dawgs’ early lead. The poor play of pack players known only as “Odd Job” and “Fat Backstreet Boy” limited Amherst’s defensive capacity.
Constant overloads on the line, however, allowed the Donkeys to squeeze two tries in the last five minutes of the opening period and command a 19-12 advantage at the half. Frustration characterized the White Dawg A’s as they tried to regroup. Line captain Adam “Scout” Jacobson ’03 helped rouse the team’s spirits, and the effects of his heartening words were evident in the second half.
Williams scored first in the final period, as Galen “Doogie” Thorp ’04 broke through for a 60-meter run. Thorp converted the try, tying the score 19-19. Amherst would not die, and went back on top, 26-19, off a 10-meter lineout. The score was the same with 18 minutes left to play, at which point the White Dawgs showed what it means to be a White Dawg.
Fifteen minutes, four unanswered tries and 26 straight points later, Williams had the game in their back pocket. Scores by four different White Dawgs in the waning minutes epitomized Williams’ overall play throughout the game. Six different players accounted for their seven total tries.
Scrum captain Nicholas “Pokey” Brandt ’02 aptly summarized the Dawgs’ success. “Today, we really played as a team,” Brandt said. “Individual efforts were outstanding and recognized, but it was our ability to mesh and focus as a unit of 15 rugby players that gave us the W.”
In the B-side game, Williams did not fare as well. Despite the fierce rucking of George “Stay Puft” Evans ’04 and Ari “Sandman” Kessler ’04 and the sick line play of Andrew “Sico” Marks ’05 and Raf “Nasty” Cruz ’05, the Killer B’s could not surmount a sizable Amherst side.
In a diabolical scheme to salvage some of their school-sponsored practice shirts, the Black Donkeys threw several A-side players back on the field. An unbelievable penalty kick from the far sideline, converted by Stephen “ED” Rahl ’05, prevented the shutout, though the B’s fell, 5-3.
Yet on the whole, Saturday was a grand day for the WRFC. Four of five seniors were able to strip black jerseys from their Amherst opposite’s back, and Williams took home 16 pinnies in all. The weather could not have been more perfect, and the post-game food and beverages were quite delicious. By the time the White Dawgs returned to the beautiful confines of the Purple Valley, most had forgotten the B-side’s misfortune.
On a personal note, I have had a wonderful time as a member of the WRFC these past four years, and there could not have been a better script with which to end my time as a White Dawg. I thank the captains, the seniors and the rest of the team for a phenomenal season, both on and off the pitch. I will miss you all, and wish you the best of luck. Nihil in moderato, boys.