DRFC Competes in Las Vegas Invitational
This past weekend, DRFC captain Madison Hughes led the Eagles to a top four finish at the USA 7s in Las Vegas, including a draw with perennial powerhouse South Africa, and a shutout of North American nemesis Canada. During this celebration of rugby in the desert, the DRFC competed admirably in the collegiate bracket of the Las Vegas Sevens Invitational. Playing a winter tournament without its leader Hughes and missing other major contributors like Dawit Workie and Wil Chockley, the DRFC competed with great heart and tenacity. After losing the first match of pool play 29-15 to a very strong Air Force Academy team, the boys in green bounced back to defeat Georgetown University 50-0 and then the University of Pittsburgh by a score of 36-7, with Hughes cheering on his college teammates from the crowd.
These matches set up a Friday morning plate quarterfinal against an always strong Wheeling Jesuit University varsity program. In a physical matchup against a big and skilled Wheeling Jesuit side, the Big Green prevailed 19-17 as a result of great leadership and intensity from Captain Pete Savarese and senior leader Mike McDavid. A late sprint down the sideline for a try from junior John Abraham put the Big Green ahead, and a match saving tackle into touch by Rhodes Scholar Colin Walmsley with no time left on the clock put Dartmouth onto the plate semis. In the plate semifinal the DRFC fell to the University of Notre Dame in a hard fought 10-19 battle. Strong performances by seniors by Andrew Berson, Brendan Cronin and Keith Hamren, as well as big impacts made by the two newest additions to the team, ex-football players Stephen Dazzo and Cody Patch, served as a preview of things to come for the DRFC in the Varsity Cup and CRC Sevens this spring.
After Dartmouth’s matches came to a close Friday afternoon, the boys' attention switched to the Eagles' exciting run in the USA Sevens tournament. As a few of the current seniors watched their teammate Hughes on the pitch, they were joined in the stands by recent DRFC legends from the ‘12 class, Paul Jarvis, Derek Fish, Clark Judge and Nate Brakeley. The DRFC alumni presence lived up to its reputation, as members of the 1980 DRFC class, including then DRFC President Bob Brown, hosted the current squad for dinner and fun Saturday night.
Club President Jake Levine noted, "This weekend was a celebration of a lot of the aspects that make Dartmouth Rugby so special – the tradition, the camaraderie and brotherhood that exist between alumni and current members, the addition of new players who can immediately contribute, and turning the page from winter indoor training to being ready for the all important Varsity Cup and the CRCs. The competition was top-notch and provided some essential on-field experience, capped off by a great come from behind win over Wheeling Jesuit, and of course Maddy and the U.S. Team's breakthrough success."
Team captain Pete Savarese added: "After a month and a half of training indoors, it was great to be back out on the field against high level competition. The team responded well to the pressure of live game play and our improvement over the course of the tournament was awesome to see. Overall it was a great weekend for the DRFC: the Las Vegas venue was a breath of fresh air coming from the Hanover winter and the support of our parents and alumni was incredible as always."
This sentiment was seconded by senior leader Mike McDavid, who stated, "We did a lot of things well against some very stiff competition, and we feel like the weekend was a success in terms of player development. There is no substitute for the experience of full blown matches, especially the kind of tense affair we had against a very tough Wheeling Jesuit side. Often we talk about getting better every day. On Thursday and Friday I think we all got better by leaps and bounds. We are excited about the spring, and I for one cannot wait to get out there and mix it up again as soon as possible."
Coach Gavin Hickie also shared his thoughts on the role this tournament played for the club, explaining: "The LVI was a fantastic challenge for an experimental Dartmouth side. It will prove to be an important time in our rugby calendar as it is the first time we have been together, playing rugby outdoors since November."
Coach Hickie added, "The players acquitted themselves very well over the weekend and we had outstanding support from parents and alums which is always greatly appreciated. It was a special moment for everyone connected with the DRFC to see our captain Madison Hughes lead his USA Eagles to 4th place at Las Vegas. Maddy's consistently high performances earned him a place on the team of the tournament."
The DRFC now looks toward Varsity Cup 15s competition in April and the Penn Mutual CRC Sevens from May30-31 in Philadelphia, PA. Tickets for the CRC can be purchased here: http://www.usasevenscrc.com/tickets/dartmouth