Men ruggers still undefeated after besting Orono and Bates
A winning rugby team has become as much a part of the Bowdoin fall as dazzling foliage and fuzzy sweaters. Over the past two weekends, the ruggers in black claimed wins against U Maine Orono and Bates, and are poised once again to claim the top spot in the Division II Downeast Conference.
Before a crowd of fans and family on Parent's Weekend, the Bowdoin Men's Rugby team fought hard against the University of Maine at Orono, and pulled out a gritty 12-5 victory. Both teams were undefeated before the match, and both teams took the field knowing that the day's victor would be in the best position to win this year's conference championship.
"Orono came to play us having already beaten Colby," said Coach Rick Scala, "and Colby is almost always one of the best teams in New England. There was no question going into the match that we needed to beat Orono to keep our playoff hopes alive."
Although Bowdoin never trailed, Orono kept the match close the entire game. "Our advantage over Orono has always been our fitness level," said Captain Dave Kirkland '03. "This year was [expletive] different. We kept expecting them to slow down, and they never did. Orono gave us a good game until the last whistle blew. [The match] was tougher than the [expletive] streets of Beverly on a Saturday night. But we had that [expletive] on lockdown."
"We had focus and we had heart, and that's why we won," said senior Captain Dennis Kiley. "Dennis = tired. Interview = over."
The forwards performed up to their usual standards, but it was the backs who really shined against Orono. Scrum half Tom "Ebony" Hazel '05 showed his continuing maturity on the pitch, and fly half Nick "Kiwi" Reid '05 turned in a shocker of a performance, despite nagging injuries from an unfortunate shaving accident.
The excitement of the A game was somewhat eclipsed by the participation of alumnus Jason "D'Anunnzio" Pietrafitta '02 in the B game. Pietrafitta was a Bowdoin rugby captain both his junior and senior years, and drove all the way to Brunswick from New Jersey to revisit his glory days as a Bowdoin rugger.
"My career as a waste management consultant places huge demands on my time" said Pietrafitta, "but as soon as I had a free weekend, I knew where I wanted to go."
In last week's action over fall break, Bowdoin turned in another victorious performance, this time over NESCAC rival Bates College. Although Bates played a good game, the ruggers in black won a solid victory 46-10, and improved to a perfect 4-0 on the season.
"We had to change our strategy somewhat, because Bates has such an oddly-shaped field," remarked Coach Scala. "One of our greatest strengths is our kicking ability, and with such small try zones we didn't want to run the risk of kicking the ball out of bounds. So we decided to rely more on our forwards and on our speedy back line."
Bowdoin responded well to the changes, and no one had a better game than Joe Wilson '02. Wilson had several good charges out of rucks, and despite a knee injury, ran at a furious pace. Wilson was hit hard in the second half and had to come out of the game, but he was not disappointed.
"If I take it easy, I probably have six or seven years of Bowdoin rugby left in me. But I can't let my concerns for the future affect my commitment to the team right now. So I went out there against Bates and gave everything I had."
Senior forward Tim Yanni-Lazarus also had an outstanding game. Despite the chilly climate of the greater Lewiston area, Yanni-Lazarus gave his usual effort, and by the end of the match was soaked head to toe.
The Bates ruggers fielded a large squad for last Saturday's match, and as a result the B game was made up of mostly rookies and fresh players on both sides of the pitch. As usual, Bowdoin's rookies fired up and played with the same intensity and fire seen in the eyes of the veteran starters.
Taking over at scrum half, Adam Feit '06 was very pleased not only with his performance in the game, but also with his overall level of fitness. "We run a lot in practice, but I never feel like I am getting enough conditioning," noted Feit. "I have been trying to get in some extra cardio work everywhere I can-in my dorm, on the quad, in the dining hall-and I think it's been paying off. I noticed that I was running better and keeping up later in the games because of my workout regiment. I want to be a total player, and there is nothing I wouldn't do for Bowdoin rugby."
Rookie hooker Jason Cha '06 also performed well in the B game, and caught the attention of coaches on both sidelines. Cha, who came down with the flu sometime late last Thursday night, had missed practice Friday and until the game began had been unsure about his ability to play.
Cha mused, "It was a big surprise when I came down with something, especially on a Thursday night! I was so sick and I felt bad about missing practice, but you can't control these things. I am just glad that when I got out there I felt comfortable enough to fire up and contribute."
After both games had ended, the Bowdoin ruggers passed on any ungentlemanly behavior, and instead chose to spend their fall break quietly contemplating the season ahead.
Senior forward Mike Balulescu was quite philosophical when asked about the season thus far. "We have had nothing but success, and that is pretty impressive, but you never know what could happen. We need to stay focused and be prepared for a tough road ahead. Even if you're in a good relationship with a woman, she can always panic and run away because she needs her independence. The same is true in rugby."
Warren Dubitsky '04 had more coherent thoughts about the rest of the season. "We need to be careful not to get too confident," he said. "The match against Colby will be the biggest one of the season, and we need to keep our heads in game. We need to believe in each other and ourselves. I'm no priest, but I think if we do what we believe is right, we will earn ourselves a playoff spot."
The men's rugby team will face off against Colby tomorrow at 11:00 A.M. in the final match of the regular season. Join the Bowdoin alumni in cheering on the ruggers to another undefeated season. GO BLACK!