Dawgs lose to Middlebury

Ever been to the United Nations complex in New York? It’s truly a fascinating place, as representatives of every country in the world congregate in grand fashion to do the things that they do. These diverse peoples learn from each other and exchange traditions and ideas in a globally-minded community. It’s one of the two places in the country where an American might feel out of place.

The other, of course, is on the Middlebury rugby pitch. On a gorgeous Saturday in Vermont, Williams’ and America’s own White Dawgs fell victim to the countless foreign agents of the opposition, dropping a close decision to Middlebury.

Only on account of villainy, though, had the White Dawgs made the arduous trek up Rt. 7 to play Middlebury. A series of treasonous gambits by the Middlebury, combined with the relative inexperience and incompetence of Williams match secretary Alex “Piglet” Smith ’06, earned the Middlebury team an undeserved second consecutive fall home contest. And all athletes know that it can’t help performance to spend more than two hours before the game in a very uncomfortable place. Like the back of a Volkswagen.

The Williams boys were even forced to aid the hapless Middlebury in procuring a referee for the match. They did so, however, in high style, convincing Paul Bethe ’00 to make the drive up from New York City for the all-important tie. Aside from his stellar performance in the middle, many Dawgs were pleased as punch to be exposed to the rugby knowledge of the legendary Bethe for a day.

The Middlebury’s tactics, from the opening, rarely varied. Their goal was to get the ball out of their portly, useless scrum to the quick-footed line. Three first-half tries were the result, and the situation looked bleak for Williams.

“They were the masses yearning to breathe free,” said line captain Galen “Lt. Pete Mitchell” Thorp ’04, “and we were Ellis Island.”

The Dawgs stiffened up before intermission, however, putting up 10 of their own points on the strength of a 5-meter lineout try and a long-range penalty conversion from Thorp.

Emotions were running high in the White Dawgs’ huddle during halftime, and the Williams ruggers were additionally incensed by a fiery speech from surprise attendee John “Spartacus” Crowley-Delman ’01. The alum had acted as a mentor during his senior season to several of the current White Dawg veterans, and the sight of him on the sidelines once again, dispensing liberally from his fount of knowledge like a broken Pepsi machine, nearly brought some players to tears.

In the second half, Middlebury took possession of the considerable wind advantage and put the Williams backline under pressure. Skillful and well-timed kicks from the foreigners pinned the White Dawgs in their own half for much of the second 40 minutes, and the Midd line continued to up the tempo of the game and capitalize off Dawgs’ mistakes. The score, though, was close at the end.

Stripped of their international advantage, the Middlebury B-side was forced to take on the Killer Bs on an even playing ground. The result was an entertaining, evenly-balanced match that eventually fell to Williams. In the interim, the Killer Bs were forced to contend with a quick-starting opponent, one that jumped out to an early two-try advantage.

Williams fought back, however, as excellent handling on the line interior from “Chinstrap” Charlie Wittenburg ’04 and Jed “Howler Monkey” Doench ’04 led to ample opportunity on the large field’s periphery. That commendable ball movement led to a masterful try for Nick “Krusty” Brandfon ’04 to cap the game.

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