White Dawgs win for coach

Saturday was an emotional day for the Williams Rugby Football Club (WRFC) as the team played for home field advantage in the playoffs, a winning season and, most importantly, for their coach. The loss of Head Coach Bruce Stephenson’s father the previous week weighed heavily on the entire team. Showing emotional support to their friend and mentor in the only way they knew how, the team dominated Nichols College in a 24-10 victory.

The WRFC came out strong in the first half for the first time this season. After some aggressive kicks, the ball was spun wide. Fullback Taylor Nelp ’09 carried the ball into the try zone, but scoring was not as simple as usual for Nelp as the ball was knocked out of his hands. Fortunately for the White Dawgs, Matt Desir ’08 was the first one to the loose ball and he touched it down for his first try of the game. Nichols played tough defense, but penalties allowed Nelp to make two kicks giving the White Dawgs a 13-3 lead going into half.

The second half was fueled by the same passion as the first as the WRFC continued to control the game. The White Dawgs showed grit and determination as Kevin Waite ’09 and Alex Horne ’08 doled out some hits that the Nichols players are surely still feeling right now. The self-proclaimed third best hooker in New England, Johnny Greenwald ’08 also stepped up as he filled the shoes of David Aitoro ’09, who is out with a knee injury. Nelp made two more penalty kicks to widen the gap before sending Desir screaming down the sideline for his second try of the game. Desir’s background as a sprinter for the track team was hard to miss as his 80 meter run made the pursuing Nichols players look like pugs after a greyhound, 747’s in the wake of an F22, house cats in the midst of a cheetah, dial-up compared to DSL, etc., etc. With the best all around team performance of the year, the A-side will be going into Plate playoffs as the No. 1 seed. They host the eighth seeded Roger Williams next Saturday.

The B-side matched the A-side’s intensity, but they were unable to come away with a win. However, they did not lose either, but instead tied 5-5. The team’s try was scored by Chris Liguori ’10. Reid Covington ’10 missed a few kicks just wide that could have given the team the lead. Odds are, the B’s would have been able to squeak out a win, however, the cowardly and rather portly Nichols B-side asked to play 30 minute halves instead of the traditional 40 minutes which prevented the Killer B’s from fully executing their game plan.

After the game the White Dawgs circled around their coach. Holding back tears, Stephenson thanked his players for their support throughout the week as well as their effort on the field. The team responded by presenting its coach with a signed rugby ball, a gesture which brought the coaches tears to the surface as he embraced his players. In honor of Bruce’s father, a scholarship fund has been created which will provide opportunities for players who cannot afford the financial burdens of the club.

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