The sun was shining, a rainbow graced the horizon and temperatures were in the low 50s. This past Saturday was certainly a rugby day. Men’s rugby took the field against rival Amherst in the last match of the spring season. Led by co-captains Steve Smith ’12 and Conor Ryan ’12, the White Dawgs started the game confidently, inspired by poignant words from the seniors who would play their last games as members of the Williams Rugby Football Club (WRFC).
The game started off auspiciously. Playing with the wind in the first half, standout Chris Conder ’15 converted two penalty kicks to put the White Dawgs up 6-0. Amherst countered with a try that broke through the men’s stout backline defense to cut the score to 6-5 after a failed conversion kick. Then, in a moment that will reverberate throughout the WRFC annals, a difficult 50-yard drop-kick put the White Dawgs up 9-5 going into halftime. The crowd went wild and, despite the narrow leading margin, it appeared that the Ephs had landed a knockout blow.
The second half started in much the same way as the first. Fueled by Conder’s kicking and a powerful White scrum, Williams spent the beginning of the second half deep in Amherst territory. Quick ball movement from the ruck saw the ball passed from Seamus McKinsey ’12 to Javier Mariscal ’13 to Jay Gurney ’13 and on to Cary White ’13, who broke two tackles to score a try and raise the score to 16-5 after a successful conversion by Conder. The two teams exchanged penalty kicks and Williams clung to a 19-9 lead with 20 minutes left. Alas, in rugby, as in all sports, the best defense is a good offense, and the White Dawgs’ lack of forward momentum resulted in three late Black Donkey tries. The Black Donkeys emerged victorious and clothed in contrast to the shirtless, exhausted White Dawgs. However, the game was a complete team effort, and the White Dawgs displayed a cohesion and fortitude that bodes well for the future.
“I’m really proud of the way we played, and although we didn’t win, at least we can say we made a 50-meter drop-kick,” President Daniel Tessler ’12 said.
The team graduates several senior stalwarts: Tessler, Smith, Ryan, Seamus McKinsey ’12, Adam Century ’12, Evan Oleson ’12, Mike Hanley ’12, Elike Kumahia ’12 and Pete Mertz ’12. Led by a strong returning junior class, the White Dawgs will look to avenge their loss to the Black Donkeys next fall.