The Bowdoin men’s Rugby Team (2-3) concluded its 50th season last weekend, beating Bates (2-3) 32-17 to claim the Lindbergh Cup.
The cup is named after a late Bowdoin alumnus Greg Lindbergh ’91 and is given annually to the winner of the Bowdoin-Bates game. The Lindbergh family dedicated the trophy in 2011 in honor of Lindbergh who used to face off against his brother, a Bates rugby player.
On Saturday, Bowdoin came out on top despite missing a number of key players due to injuries as well as suffering consecutive losses to Colby (5-0), 21-5, and UMaine Farmington (4-1), 29-15.
“We had good performances in the previous two weeks … [even] though we didn’t get the outcome[s] that we wanted,” said team president Connor Fitzgerald ’20. “[Against Bates], we did a good job of keeping the pedal to the metal, scoring and playing strong defense.”
The final game on Saturday marked the end of a transitional year for the club. Entering the season with new Head Coach, Jake Fautley, the team was running low on members and had to turn to recruiting to expand its roster.
The effort paid off with nearly 20 rookies, including a few new juniors and seniors, joining over the course of the fall. The full roster now stands at just under 40 players, almost twice the size of the preseason squad.
Fitzgerald explained that even with such a significant influx of new faces, the team’s goal is to cultivate an atmosphere that continues to attract new members.
“For a lot of us, what initially drew us into the club is the inclusivity of it,” said Fitzgerald. “There’s this ethos in rugby of this idea called ‘sweep the shed.’ No one on the team is better than any task that has to be done, whether it’s cleaning the field or organizing things or bringing … various equipment pieces back to where they’re supposed to be.”
The mentality that is present on club teams, Fitzgerald explained, creates a strong sense of cohesion among the players.
“I think [being a club team] really enhances the accountability of players … [You] have the choice [of whether or not] to be there,” said Fitzgerald.
Despite its club status, the rugby team has benefited from the support of the College and of the program’s alumni. For example, when the team was tasked with finding a new coach before the beginning of this season, the rugby alumni network connected current players with potential candidates.
“The alumni were super helpful in the process of finding a new coach … members of student activities and athletic directors [supported us as well],” said Fitzgerald. “They were a big part of the process of the interviews for our current coach.”
For the team’s 50th anniversary celebration earlier this fall, decades of Bowdoin rugby alumni returned to campus to cheer on the team and reconnect with old teammates.
“We had a much larger reception this year during Alumni Weekend after our match compared to the past years,” said Fitzgerald. “[Between] the two events, one Friday night event and one after our match on Saturday, [we] had over 60 alums.”
As the team prepares for its spring season, the players’ focus remains on building camaraderie.
“A lot of people, a lot of the alums specifically, use the word ‘brotherhood’ to describe [the experience of being on the team],” said Fitzgerald. “I’m really optimistic about the future of the club.”