Men’s rugby wins Ivy North title
By Emma Willems
Published on Tuesday, October 23, 2012
On Saturday, the Dartmouth men’s rugby team returned victorious from a 28-5 game at Brown University, becoming the winner of the Ivy League North Division and completing a second consecutive undefeated season. The game marked the continuation of the Dartmouth men’s rugby program’s long-standing dominance in the Ivy League.
The women’s rugby team took on Princeton University on the road and finished with a disappointing 30-5 loss. The Big Green will face Cornell University at a to-be-determined date and time.
Despite the challenges of running on an especially muddy and wet field, the Dartmouth men managed to control the pace of play in their championship game against the Bears. The win was especially rewarding because the team’s last game against Brown on Sept. 29 at Brophy Field resulted in a disappointing 23-23 tie.
“It was intense,” captain Michael Burbank ’13 said. “Having tied Brown at home, we all felt like we needed to step up.”
The match began with a penalty conversion by Madison Hughes ’15 and a try by Kevin Clark ’14 that put the Big Green up 8-0 within the first 30 minutes of the game. The Bears broke through with a try of their own, leaving the score close at 8-5 at halftime.
“The match was very high-energy,” winger Justin Ciambella ’13 said. “It was great to see the entire team work hard.”
The Big Green offense exploded in the second half with two tries from Ciambella and Clark. In the last 10 minutes of the game, another penalty conversion by Hughes and a try by Chris Banks ’16 sealed the victory for Dartmouth.
“I think we played the best rugby we’ve played all season,” Burbank said. “We kept possession, we didn’t turn the ball over and we had some guys make great plays. It was a really complete game.”
As champions of the Ivy League North Division, the Big Green earned the honor of hosting the Ivy League 15s Championship in the spring, giving its seniors another chance to play at home before they graduate.
“It wasn’t just one player, but the entire team,” Ciambella said. “Each member contributed and put forth his A-game.”
Although the team ultimately emerged victorious in the league, the men’s success was not guaranteed following the graduation of strong members of the Class of 2012 and the sabbatical of head coach Alex Magleby, who is currently coaching the U.S. national rugby sevens team.
“We came in this season with a lot of uncertainty, and we didn’t know if we could put forth the product that people have come to expect out of Dartmouth rugby,” Burbank said. “This match makes us feel that despite adversity, we went out there and took care of business.”
Saturday’s game proved that the program remains strong despite the difficulties it has faced.
“I really think we’ve accomplished everything we wanted to this fall,” Ciambella said.
Meanwhile, the Dartmouth women traveled to New Jersey to take on Princeton on Saturday. The Tigers managed to score three tries early on and jumped out to a 15-0 lead. A try by Mayowa Willoughby ’14 put the Big Green on the board and cut the halftime deficit to 15-5.
“The try that we scored was really a team effort,” co-captain Emma Vance ’13 said. “I think every person on the field contributed.”
To the dismay of the Big Green women, they failed to score again for the remainder of the match. Three more Princeton tries made the final score 30-5.
“We were very even going into halftime, but we failed to come back harder in the second half the way we have been doing in other games,” Vance said.
Vance attributed this loss to a failure to work as a team.
“There were definitely a lot of individuals who played well, but the problem was that we didn’t play as effectively together as we have at other points this season,” Vance said.
The women’s season is not over — the Big Green plans to take on Cornell in a match either this weekend or next weekend. Until then, the women will focus on working together as a team in practices in the hopes of improving their play before the game.
“We haven’t played Cornell in a couple of years, but they have a reputation for being tough and physical,” Vance said. “I’m excited for us to use our fast players and for us to match their toughness with our toughness.”