Men’s rugby shuts down WPI 33-17

A long bus ride through Massachusetts deposited the White Dawgs in scenic Worchester, ready to take on the Goats from Worchester Polytechnic Institute. After a disappointing 0-2 start to the season, the Dawgs were ready for a chance at redemption. Field conditions were less than ideal due to the recent downpours and WPI’s general lack of field upkeep. Further obstacles were presented when the referee presented himself as being “unsure” of many rules and regulations of the game. These included, but were not limited to, the offside rule, general tackling protocol and the fact that rugby should be played for two 40-minute halves.

Williams proved unfazed by these minor problems, pushing forward with the pack and bringing the gain line close to the WPI try zone. A quick pass from the line sprung Corey Benson ’11 into and through the opposing backs to score the first try of the game. The Goats responded soon after the try, taking advantage of some miscues to equalize the score at 7-7.

Six minutes later, an injury to a Williams player revealed a considerable oversight by WPI, in that no EMT was on staff to monitor the game. As the New England Rugby Football Union (NERFU) requires an EMT to be present at every game, play was suspended until one could be found. WPI attempted to solve the problem by calling two ambulances, the fire department and Medi-Vac helicopter search and rescue to the pitch. Although they provided a beautiful display of red and blue lights, the professionals quickly dismissed the injury as minor and declined to stay for the rest of the game. Eventually, an EMT was found, and the game resumed at the second half, the score still tied 7-7.

The Dawgs came out hard to start the half, well rested after the hour-long wait for a qualified EMT. A quick kick by Chuck Toomajian ’11 allowed Geoff McCrossan ’11 to sprint past a stunned WPI team, put the ball in his crosshairs and catch it for a Williams try. Brian Hartmann ’11 put the ball squarely through the goal posts and Williams regained the lead 14-7. Continued aggressive play from the backs allowed Jay Gurney ’13 to break free, giggling as he ran past defenders for a 60-yard score. Benson added to the Williams lead, scoring his second try of the day for a 26-7 lead.

Jealous of the backs’ continued dominance, the Williams forwards pressed forward in the final minutes of the game. Head Coach Bruce Stephenson, proud of the men’s performance, described the team’s fourth try of the day: “Forward Steve Smith’s [’12] 6’3” 240 pound size froze the WPI backs, allowing Brian Hartmann to gather in the pass, cut to his left, avoid two weak tackle attempts, run 30 yards and score under the posts and end the game.”

A final score of 33-17 brought Williams the team’s first victory of the season. The men will look to even their record at 2-2 next week against Babson.