Men’s rugby celebrates 60th anniversary, defeats Amherst

Matt Schleifman

Last weekened, Williams Rugby Football Club (WRFC) defeated archrival Amherst 13-5 for the seventh consecutive time. Photo Courtesy of Sports Information.

Williams men’s rugby has had an eventful two weeks. Not only did the club cap off a markedly successful regular season last Saturday with a hard-fought 13-5 victory over Amherst, but it also enjoyed its 60th anniversary two weekends ago.

Roughly 100 alumni, over twice the number of players currently on the Williams Rugby Football Club (WRFC) roster, returned to celebrate the milestone. The alumni came to campus on the night of Friday, Oct. 12, and spent the night on Sheep Hill, catching up with old friends and meeting new players. Flyhalf and kicker Nick Sommer ’21 remarked on the tightly-knit Williams rugby community fostered by such an active alumni presence. “The 60th anniversary was such a unique event in the sense that we got to meet rugger alums from all years ranging from those who just graduated last year to the founder of the club himself and the first president of the club,” Sommer said. “Talking with the alums, it was easy to see how much the club has evolved over the years and how regardless of when one graduated, this sport and this club has created a bond within guys [which] defies the test of time.”

President Seth Goldstein ’19 also enjoyed meeting some of the alumni, particularly remarking that he “talked to alumni about where the club is and how they can get more involved.”

The next day, the alumni cheered on their old team as they defeated MCLA, followed by a scrimmage between the alumni and current team. The club also commemorated the passing of their late coach, Bruce Stevenson, in a banquet the night of Oct. 13 , during which family members and former players spoke on his love for the game and his players. To solidify his legacy and impact on WRFC, the rugby pitch was renamed the Bruce Memorial Field.

The weekend after the celebrate of rugby’s 60th anniversary and renaming of the pitch, Stevenson’s memory aided the club as they wrapped up their regular season against Amherst at home. Coming off of six consecutive victories against Amherst, expectations ran high prior to the match. Goldstein remarked on the club’s successful track record against their rivals in recent years. “If we can close it out next semester, my class will have never seen a loss against Amherst,” Goldstein said. A large crowd witnessed the victory as well, creating an exciting atmosphere. The match was intense and well-fought by both sides. Following an early score by Amherst, WRFC retained its poise and took control of the game.

“Just from watching the game, you could tell that the players were giving it 110 percent the entire time,” Sommer said. “The fact that we had dedicated the field the prior week to former WRFC head coach Bruce Stevenson just added more weight to the occasion. We played this game for Bruce, and he is the reason we won.”

With the regular season complete, WRFC looks ahead to the playoffs. The team is not quite sure yet who they will face, but trusts that their success from the regular season will continue. “It’s going to be a long season,” Goldstein confidently stated. Provided WRFC is not eliminated, they could play up to four more games. Sommer is also optimistic about the upcoming playoffs. “Our season has been one for the record books,” he said. “Even though our A-side song claims that ‘We just play for recreation,’ after tasting playoffs last year for the first time in two decades, it is clear that we have moved beyond that and that our team is dedicated to playing hard and to winning.”

As a whole, WRFC is not only looking forward to the playoffs, but to the spring and beyond. Goldstein notes that the “deep and committed” first-year class has a high ceiling for growth and improvement, and that he is eager see how they continue to build on their progress in the spring. Sommer echoes Goldstein’s sentiments. “We have an incredible senior class who has provided amazing leadership, and we have been joined by a large class of passionate rookies who are already showing how they will contribute to the future success of the club,” Sommer said. “The spring season promises to be a continuation of this progress, and we are looking forward to many more years of great rugby.” It will be exciting to follow WRFC in the near future. With their best shot at the playoffs in two decades and a renewed passion for the sport, rugby looks forward to reaping the tangible results of their effort during the playoffs next month.