The men’s rugby team won its 4th consecutive New England title, blowing out Northeastern by a 44-5 score at Sachem Field on Saturday afternoon. The win also extended Dartmouth’s four-year league winning streak to a whopping 28 games.
The Big Green now move on to the national playoffs — in which the squad is seeded in the Norheastern Division — with their first game at home on Nov. 8.
Coach Wayne Young called the win “really important to us” and noted the victory helped the Big Green earn a high seed in the national tournament.
The Dartmouth Rugby Football Club came out fast, making several rucks. The first points of the game were scored by Dave Miller ’98 on a quick pass from Mark Oldham ’99. This gave the DRFC a 5-0 lead. The Big Green won three straight rucks in the second period, and center Alex Ray ’00 scored, pushing the team’s lead to 10-0.
The last 10 minutes of the first half were definitely a testimony to the DRFC’s amazing passing. The ball went from senior captain Doug Burnaford to Oldham to Ray, who then sent the ball inside to Dave Chamberlain ’98. Chamberlain made a quick pass outside to center Alex Magleby ’00, who scored. The two-point conversion by Miller gave the Big Green a 17-0 lead with two minutes to go in the half.
Senior co-captain Adam Himoff ’98 won a short line out right before the end of the half. Then Scott Whiting ’99, on a pass from Oldham, crashed into Northeastern’s defensive line and set a ruck. Doug Heyman ’98 received a pass from Burnaford and zipped the ball to Tom Miller ’98 for a 22-0 lead at the end of the half.
Northeastern tried to make a quick comeback in the second half and successfully scored five points. But Dartmouth rallied and quickly snuffed out Northeastern’s flame. Dave Miller raced over the score on a pass from Burnaford, and the lead was extended to 27-5.
Heyman also successfully scored on a pass from Burnaford and Miller’s two point conversion made it 34-5. Later in the quarter, Miller had an amazing 40-meter hat trick and the lead was upped to 39-5. The final points of the game points were the result of a burst down the side lines by Dan Thibeault ’97, putting the final count at 44-5.
The team’s extremely successful season was a surprise to many of their league rivals, who expected the team to perform below par this season because they graduated 13 of their top 20 players last year.
Young attributes the team’s continued success to the leadership abilities of the captains and the determination of all the players. “The players all agreed to start pre-season training in August and on some days we had double practices,” he said.
“Every single player has stepped it up. Unlike years past nobody is looking to anyone else to make the big play. All 15 are capable of breaking the game wide open,” said Burnaford, a senior captain.
The team’s goals have evolved in stages. “At first, we wanted to get into the playoffs, which we did three weeks ago, then to win the league, which we did undefeated. Now we want to get into the Sweet Sixteen,” Burnaford said.
“Army has historically been our biggest rival. We defeated them last year to go on to national tournament, where we finished fifth in the nation,” said senior winger David Miller. The DRFC will most likely have to beat Army in the Northeastern finals in order to get the opportunity to better last year’s performance.
The Big Green lost a very close exhibition game to Army earlier this season. The two teams are very well matched and along with the University of Connecticut are considered the top teams in the Northeastern division.