On Saturday, men’s rugby faced off against Union in its first match of the year. It was a glorious day to inaugurate the spring rugby season. The sun was out, the grass was freshly sheared and a soft breeze rippled through the valley. Much of the men’s ‘A’ side arrived early to the pitch, fervently anticipating the return to the mad dashes and bone-crushing hits that had been absent through the frosty winter months. The men opened their season on a positive note, demolishing Union 63-10.
Williams, fresh off its international tour, had every reason to feel confident, while Union, a solid opponent in its own right, hoped to make a strong statement in its first match. Any feeling of optimism the Dutchmen may have had was quickly dashed, however. Not three minutes into play, fullback Chris Conder ’15 – making his stateside debut – received a pass running at full speed on the near side of the pitch from veteran winger George Gurney ’13 to score the first try of the match. The White Dawgs won the ensuing kickoff, and as the shell-shocked Dutchmen defensive line looked to regroup, it was met with the unholy stiff arm of inside center Michael Hanley ’12. While the play resulted in a penalty, it also struck fear into the Dutchmen’s hearts and set the tone for the rest of the half. Later in the possession, flanker Carl Whipple ’12 gathered up an offload on the wing from Javier Mariscal ’13 and shed three defenders to score the try, putting Williams up 6-0.
On offense, the White Dawgs were unstoppable. The first half saw tries from Conder, Gurney, Evan Oleson ’12, Eric Mintzer ’14, Conor Ryan ’12 and senior back captain Stephen Smith ’12. While the Union pack managed to break through the Williams line and score a try in the 31st minute, the defense remained steadfast throughout the contest.
The White Dawgs opted to substitute out many of their starting players for the second half, and so second-half results did not match the team’s first half numbers. The White Dawgs did, however, continue to play with a feverish and focused fury and score two more tries courtesy of Oleson and Henry Bergman ’15 while allowing only one more Dutchmen score, yielding a final tally of 63-10.
While the dispirited Union side opted not to participate in a ‘B’ side match, the ‘B’ side nevertheless suited up for an intra-squad scrimmage. In a sublime and transcendent display of offensive firepower, teammates Yoonsang Bae ’15 and Jonny Gonzalez ’15 combined for six tries while Danny Tessler ’12 had perhaps the play of the day, pop-kicking the ball over five opposing players and running it in 50 meters for the try.
Smith was pleased with the team’s inaugural performance. “This is the strongest start I’ve seen out of our team in my years at this college,” he said. “The forwards played with tenacity and power, while the backs carried themselves with peerless agility and rugby I.Q.”
The men will face Keene State and the University of Vermont on Saturday at Cole Field in the John Donovan Memorial Tournament. Play will begin at noon.