Williams College RFC
This past Saturday, the Williams College Rugby Football Club, for the first time in three and a half years, conquered their Amherst rivals with what rugby historians are already referring to as the greatest bout of playing the Northeast has seen in decades. The White Dogs, a team with six freshmen and a total of eight rookies, set a tone of domination and destruction from the start with a bone shattering hit at the kickoff from sophomore rookie Forbes Wilson, pounding down the Lord Jeffs with a try in each half and boldly resisting efforts from their opponents to regain position for a final score of 12-7. Amherst’s attempts to comeback were valiant, but largely futile. The Williams forward pack, led by co-captain and prop Josh Geller, more than made up for a disadvantage in size with technical skill, strategy and stamina, outwitting the clumsy Amherst pack at every turn and draining their energy with every set piece, maul and ruck. The Williams pack proved integral in the team’s defense, resisting the repeated and tedious battery of the Amherst forward assault within a yard of scoring to prevent a tie in the second half. The forwards performed so admirably as to even elicit a rare smile from their captain, to the delight of all within the Purple Valley. The Williams back line, led by co-captain and fly half Eric Mintzer, dominated the Amherst line, consistently punching through their defense and exploiting gaps and overlaps with textbook mastery. With deft handling, swift movement and the keen ability to consistently get the ball wide to the wings and brush past the Amherst back line defense, the Williams side made veritable fools of their rivals. While the forwards fought hard in the rucks and mauls to win and keep possession of the ball, it was the back line that jammed the ball down Amherst’s throat for the scores.
Both of the tries for Williams were feats of athleticism, and deserve essays in their own right. For the first score, after a well-executed line out by the Williams pack and swift maneuvering by the back line, freshman fullback Tomas Padgett Perez lured a lone Amherst defender into a two-on-one, drawing in the tackle before spinning the ball out to Wilson, who triumphantly dashed into the try zone for the score. The start of the second half went as well for Amherst and did the start of the first, with a glorious try executed again by the Williams back line, even despite playing a man down for ten minutes due to a (dubious) yellow card. Freshman wing Adam Resnick, after carrying the ball in a breakaway run twenty yards into the Amherst red zone, avoided a tackle (and a potential turnover) with a superbly calculated and masterfully executed kick, placing the ball just within the try zone. Padgett took up the ensuing sprint, beating out the notoriously swift Amherst wing to dive on the ball and proudly claim the score. Amherst’s rallying in the second half was not fruitless: in the fiftieth minute the Amherst pack used their brutish size and thick skulls to badger down the Williams team and just barely push the ball across the try line. Their comeback was short-lived, however, and they could not fully even the score. As the whistle blew, history was made.
Saturday’s victory represents a glorious capstone on the rugby career of its senior class: the aforementioned Josh Geller and Eric Mintzer, prop and president Rene Rodriguez, flanker Emanuel McMiller, flanker Hamza Zaidan, and second row Adam Strawbridge. As well, this victory is sure to be the foundation of a new legacy for the WRFC, with the strongest underclass in the team’s recent history – one of smashing Amherst and playing superb rugby.
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.
Fall 2014 Schedule
Sunday, Sept. 14 Brandeis Away 1:00 PM
Saturday, Sept. 20 Nichols College HOME 1:00 PM
Saturday, Sept. 27 Bye week
Sunday, Oct. 5 Babson Away 1:00 PM
Saturday, Oct. 11 Amherst College HOME 1:00 PM
Saturday, Oct. 18 Mass. Conference TBD 1:00 PM
Saturday, Oct. 24 Mass Conf. Championship
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