This past Saturday morning arrived with the sky overcast, the wind icy and the pitch wet from the previous night’s downpour. It was a big-hits day, a grunts-of-exertion day, a painful day. In short: it was a good day to die – if you belong to the UMass Minutemen rugby squad, that is. UMass spread out across the half-line in a burgundy trail of pulsing neck veins. The whistle blew and up went the kick, and from that moment on, the day was to be a lot less peaceful.
Williams and UMass went at each other with a fury that belied the long winter months the White Dawgs had passed itching to be out on the pitch again. Bodies collided, ankles twisted and heads were busted like melons, making it unclear just who had the upper hand. The confusion did not last, however, as the Minutemen made a crucial mistake, setting up a 40 meter kick for Taylor Nelp ’09 that gave Williams a 3-0 lead. UMass put him to the test four minutes later, still disbelieving his inhuman range. With graceful ease Nelp wrote dismay on their faces once again with a 45 meter kick, making the score 6-0.
The White Dawgs defense, refusing to give ground, continually put the Minutemen to the test. Williams’ Matt Beatus ’09 and Kelly Madden ’09 added 10 points to the cause and a conversion kick by Nelp made the score 18-0 with two minutes left in the half. The onlookers’ heckles rose in anticipation as UMass gathered for one last determined drive. Their intensity was palpable as they launched forward, steadily gaining on the White Dawgs. With a thunderous crack, however, Chuck Toomajian ’11 brought the offensive onslaught to a soul-crushing halt with a monster-truck hit. Even though his heroics were rewarded with a yellow card, Chuck showed little concern as his teammates’ gratitude and fans’ cheers overcame his punishment.
The second half followed suit with yet another try by Madden and two more upright-splitting-boots by Nelp. The Minutemen mustered their strength as best they could, but they grew hopeless as the game drew to a close with the scoreboard reading 29-10. UMass left the pitch, heads hung low, once again awed by the valor, precision and class with which Williams so handily beat them. Determined to save at least some face, they augmented their B side with a decent amount of hefty A’s, allowing them to punch through three tries in the first half of the B game. However, Williams’ Killer B’s were able to outscore the Minutemen in the second half. In the end, the B’s did not have the time to complete the comeback, and lost 22-8.
Williams hosts the John Donahue Memorial tournament this weekend, facing Trinity, Wesleyan, and UVM.