Big Green men’s club rugby competes at New England 10s
By Daniel Bornstein, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The Dartmouth men’s club rugby team has emerged as one of the nation’s premier programs, with back-to-back titles in the 7s Collegiate Rugby Championships for the past two years and wins over some of the nation’s best known teams along the way. Many of the leading athletes from this year’s championship team graduated in June, opening the door for the Class of 2014 to step up this summer and take it upon themselves to maintain the program’s momentum as a top national contender.
The players on campus this term as well as several new players practicing with the team just for the summer will hone their skills at the team’s smaller practices. The team will also be traveling to several 7s tournaments hosted throughout the New England region.
While the dynamic of the team is different over the summer, players are excited for the opportunities that summer rugby can provide.
“The ’12s were outstanding and we will definitely miss their leadership and their play on the field this year,” Ned Kingsley ’14, the team’s summer president, said in an email to The Dartmouth. “But it also means that there are a lot of starting spots up for grabs, so everyone is working hard this summer to compete for those this fall.”
The summer provides a crucial learning opportunity for the athletes, head coach Alex Magleby ’00 said.
“We are pretty fortunate to have the D-Plan, as it gives us a full Summer term to teach 7s rugby, work on strength and conditioning and really evolve the developmental players into upper-class leaders by their junior fall,” Magleby said. “We’ve been playing in regional 7s tournaments every summer since the D-Plan came about, which gives the younger guys a lot of opportunities to work on the basic skills in competition under pressure.”
This past weekend, the men’s team competed in the 34th Annual New England 10s Rugby Tournament, losing in the first round of the playoff bracket after winning both its matches in the round robin section of the tournament. Both collegiate and club rugby teams attended the tournament.
“It was a nice accomplishment to make it into the highest [playoff] bracket,” Dylan Jones ’14, who served as the captain of the team for the weekend, said. “We had a good mix of the more experienced guys who will be competing for the top 15 slots and also some less experienced guys.”
Dartmouth defeated the University of Massachusetts in its first match of the day, 7-5, in a low-scoring affair marked by sloppy play on both sides. Brian Flint ’14 scored a try, and Tyler Moragne ’14 converted to overcome Dartmouth’s early 5-0 deficit.
In the following match, Dartmouth held on to secure a close win, 21-20, after opponent South Shore threatened with a late second-half comeback. The Big Green was lifted by tries from Danny Driscoll ’14, Rex Littlefield ’14, and Kevin Clark ’14.
In the playoff round, Dartmouth was edged out by Mystic River, 17-14, on a last-second penalty kick that followed a controversial penalty call. Dartmouth was considerably undersized compared to its opponent, but the Big Green compensated by raising its level of physical play. Clark and Kingsley completed tries for the Big Green in the match, and each was followed by a conversion by Moragne.
Although the regular fall Ivy League season is composed primarily of 15s matches, the club will focus on 7s this summer, as there are fewer members on campus. Rugby 7s are faster-paced, shorter matches, and teams are composed of seven players instead of 15.
“We’re competing in a couple of 7s tournaments in the coming weeks, including one which we are hosting here in Hanover over Sophomore Family Weekend,” Kingsley said in an email to The Dartmouth.
The summer will also help prepare the rising juniors who will participate in the two Ivy League-wide 7s tournaments this fall.
In March, Magleby was named head coach of the USA Rugby’s national 7s team. Magleby divides his time between the Men’s Collegiate All-American team, which he has coached since 2009, and the Dartmouth team.
“Having him here for a few practices this summer makes a huge difference,” Jones said. “It’s an incredible asset for the club to have him, and that’s the reason we’ve been so good the past few years.”
Magleby, who became Dartmouth’s head coach in 2001, has built the club into a perennial Ivy League powerhouse, securing eight Ivy League championships during his tenure. With its two consecutive national 7s titles — both broadcast nationally on NBC — the Big Green has proven that it can compete with varsity-level programs.
That national spotlight has allowed Dartmouth to take pride in being both a top-tier rugby contender and an elite academic institution, Rogert Demment, senior associate athletic director for physical education and recreation, said.
The rugby team enjoys the support of a loyal group of alumni, which contributes greatly to the team’s success, Demment, who oversees the rugby program, said.
The alumni buttress the club financially through the Friends of Dartmouth Rugby organization and through the team’s endowment. In addition, the club has a Governor’s Board, an alumni-comprised advisory group.
Demment praised Magleby for ensuring that individual team members assume responsibilities such as officer positions to take ownership of the program. One student, for example, is in charge of organizing the club’s trips to international tournaments. And when Dartmouth hosted this year’s round of 16 in the Division I-A and Division I-AA championships, many of the essential organizational tasks were delegated to the student members.
“They really take charge of the program, and that’s why alumni support is so strong,” Demment said.