Williams College RFC
The Williams Rugby Football Club was still riding the high of last week’s win against Plymouth State coming into this weekend’s matchup at Wesleyan. However, Saturday’s game would prove to be a big wakeup call to the White Dawgs as they approach the end of their fall season and next Saturday’s contest against Amherst.
After waking up at 6 am, the Williams A-side was still bleary-eyed as they got off the bus in Middletown, CT. But the Wesleyan Old Men, playing on their school’s homecoming and the club’s 50th anniversary, arrived to the pitch hungry and ready to do some damage. After the kickoff, the White Dawgs quickly pounded the ball down into Wesleyan territory, maintaining possession and preventing Wesleyan from getting off any kicks. However, once inside of ten meters, Williams was repeatedly stymied as they attempted to advance into the try zone. After Wesleyan was awarded a penalty for hands in the ruck, they kicked back down field and the momentum rapidly began to change. The White Dawgs took a heavy blow midway through the first half when fullback James Elish ’13 and flanker Hamza Zaidan ’14 both went into a tackle and banged heads. Elish, the team’s main kicker, ended up leaving the game with blood streaming down his face and Zaidan was forced off soon after. While the White Dawg’s pack continued its dominance of opposing scrums in the first half, they huddled up at halftime tied 5-5 with their only points courtesy of a try by captain Jay Gurney ’13.
Williams continued to struggle in the second half giving up a try to Wesleyan early on. As a large crowd of Wesleyan alums egged on their home team, the game seemed as if it might slip away from the White Dawgs. However, two key penalty kicks from Gurney, who accounted for all of the team’s points, eventually put Williams in the lead for good 11-10. “We didn’t play our best game,” said Gurney after the game, “but we stuck with it and closed out the narrow victory.”
As the White Dawgs tend to both the physical and psychological wounds inflicted by Wesleyan, all of their thoughts keep circling back to their fateful encounter with the Amherst Black Donkeys this coming Saturday. After falling just short to Amherst twice last year, the Williams A-side is out for blood and can barely contain their impatience to get on the pitch. Behind a veteran forward pack that has steadfastly protected the ball all season and an athletic back line that has shown signs of brilliance in the last few games, the Williams has battled its way to a 4-1 season. However, the most important test still lies ahead, and White Dawgs will not be satisfied until they have taken the shirts off of Amherst’s backs.
After a frustrating first half of the season muddled by two last minute forfeits by opposing teams and a disheartening loss to Connecticut College, the Williams White Dawgs were eager for the chance to get into a rhythm. After losing to the Plymouth State Panthers for three years in a row however, Saturday’s matchup looked to be a formidable challenge to overcome. The Dawgs were restless to prove themselves though and remained undaunted in the faces of their adversaries.
The competition commenced with a short Panther kickoff. Williams quickly gained control and the pack mercilessly drove Plymouth St down to their own try line. After an unfortunate mishandle by the White Dawgs, the Panthers touched down in-goal and were awarded a 22-meter dropkick. As Williams scrambled to regain their breath and get back into position, the Plymouth St fullback took a quick kick, retrieved it himself, and beat the line down the field to score a try. This however would be the last time in 40 minutes that the Panthers would tread their paws on White Dawg turf. On the ensuring two series, the Williams forwards continued to dominate Plymouth with tries from flanker Ali McTar ’13 and eight-man Kushatha Fanikiso ’13 who would end the day with three scores. The White Dawgs though were not finished. After a textbook pop-pass from Fly-Half Jay Gurney ’13, Wing Cary White ’13 broke the opposing line and burned the Plymouth fullback for the try. And just as time expired in the first half, Gurney knocked in a 30 meter penalty kick to make the score 20-7. Of the four tries scored in the half, two were converted by James Elish ’13.
The second half continued much like first with Fanikiso barreling in early for his second try. At the 60th minute, Plymouth once again broke through the line after some miscommunication and managed to score but missed on the conversion. As the game closed out, the Panthers appeared battered and disheartened. The frustration was obvious from the players on the field as well as from the sideline. There was no question about it; the day belonged to the WRFC. Final Score: 32-12.
While there is much for Williams to improve on before the fateful matchup with Amherst in two weeks, the White Dawgs showed Saturday that they are a force to be reckoned with in New England Rugby. Next week, Williams goes on the road to take on Wesleyan, but returns for the season finale against Amherst at 1pm on October 27th.
As the cool winds begin to sweep through the Berkshires and the foliage begins to simmer in anticipation of the coming explosion of color, one thing is on the mind of every Williams sports fan: the start to the Fall Rugby season. For 56 years, the Williams Rugby Football Club (WRFC) has brought England’s favorite pastime to the sleepy hills of Williamstown with their signature work ethic, blazing athleticism, and good cheer. This year, with one of the most battle-tested A-sides in the league and newly reloaded B-side, the Williams White Dawgs look to be a force to be reckoned with in New England Rugby.
While the White Dawgs lose last year’s captains Steve Smith and Connor Ryan, the team comes into this season with a solid side of veterans, many of whom are playing in their fourth year for the club. Of particular importance will be the return of fullback James Elish ’13 as well as “Bash Brothers” Julio Luquin ‘13 and Ali McTar all three of whom decided to forsake the blessings of American liberty to spend time in Europe last year. While the offense struggled at times last year adjusting to a new offensive scheme, it showed significant signs of improving in the spring. With the kinks now out of their system, the Dawgs look to make full use of their furious speed and masterful rucking prowess to shred apart opposing defenses.
A number of changes to the league in the offseason mean that the WRFC will be competing against a slightly different batch of teams this year. Some new faces include Connecticut College, Rhode Island College, and Wesleyan. However, one thing still remains the same: the biannual showdown with the reviled Amherst Donkeys. The fateful day, scheduled for October 27, will be the opportunity for Williams to avenge two heartbreaking losses from last year.
Working with the community
On the first day of preseason, the WRFC gathered east on Route 2 to help with the cleanup at the Spruces Mobile Home Park. The Dawgs spent the morning clearing rubble from the lawns and breaking down rotted-out structures. The Spruces, located upon some of the lowest land in Williamstown, was devastated over a year ago by Hurricane Irene as it ripped through Western New England. Unfortunately, resettling the residents, many of whom are elderly, has been an ongoing issue in the North Berkshires. There is still a lot of work to do to resolve Williamstown’s affordable housing crisis, and the WRFC looks to continue to be a part of that effort.
The Road Ahead
After Trinity’s forfeit last week on account of weak spines, the White Dawgs play their next home game this Saturday at 1pm against Connecticut College on the pitch next to the baseball field. Buildings and Grounds agreed to install a new grandstand this season, so there will be no more awkward perching on the railing for the club’s loyal fan base. Additionally, the WRFC continues to hold open practices throughout the fall season for anyone interested in playing. No previous rugby experience necessary. For more information contact jm4, ggg1, or jcl2.
Fall 2012 Schedule
|Oct 6||Rhode Island College||1:00 PM||Away||7||0|
|Oct 13||Plymouth State College||1:00 PM||Home||32||12|
|Oct 20||Wesleyan||1:00 PM||Away||11||10|
|Oct 27||Amherst||1:00 PM||Home|
Nerfu Div. 3 Final Four Playoffs
Page 1 of 2«StartPrev12NextEnd»