Men’s rugby continues to pitch for perfection

The men’s rugby team beat Colgate, 37-5, last Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the Div. II Northeastern championship this weekend in Amherst, Mass.

Yale, which has yet to lose a game this fall, will take on Middlebury Saturday. The winner will move on to Sunday’s finals, the victor of which will earn a berth in the Div. II National Championships next spring. The Bulldogs (10-0) defeated the Panthers earlier this season, 10-5.

After two tight games against Middlebury and Coast Guard, Saturday’s blowout came as a welcomed respite for the Elis.

“It was nice playing a team we were dominating,” flanker Sean Wallbridge ’08 said.

Wallbridge made two tries in the win while fellow flanker Ervin Yeo ’07, who was named “man of the match” added a third.

“Ervin Yeo played unbelievably well,” flanker Nick Moscow ’06. “I’ve never seen him play that well.”

The Bulldogs’ support play was particularly impressive against the Raiders. Flyhalf Rob Smith ’06 scored on a pass off a ruck deep in Colgate’s half, and in the second half scrumhalf Garan Geist ’06 found the try zone off a midfield maul. Prop Will Harper ’05 also took a pass for about 40 meters and then carried three defenders into the try zone for a score.

Yale was effective on the wings as well. All their runs did not end in tries, but the Bulldogs maintained possession for most of the game and constantly kept pressure on the Colgate defense.

“We crushed the forwards and outran the backs,” Wallbridge said.

The score may have been closer if not for the multiple injuries the Raiders suffered during the game. Three Colgate players were taken to the hospital because of a broken rib and a split forehead, among other injuries.

The Bulldogs also incurred some injuries but none as serious as those of their opponents. Wallbridge sprained his ankle but hopes to play this weekend, and Sean Clifford ’05 left the game because of a sprained knee.

“The whole team has niggling injuries,” Wallbridge said.

Yeo attributed the team’s success Saturday — and this season — to its balance.

“The important thing is that this team doesn’t have a superstar player,” Yeo said. “Everybody is dangerous, which allows us to win. The opposition doesn’t know who to take out.”

Yeo also credited captain Mike Atkins ’05.

“He is the most important player, and he is playing out of his mind,” Eyo said.

Eyo said that Atkins is an embodiment of a captain on every level — on and off the field.

“He just acts like a captain and makes the team respect him,” he said.

Atkins and the Elis will have to put together another strong performance if they hope to beat a tough Middlebury team Satuday. If they win, they will probably face the Coast Guard, their chief rival, in the finals. Although topping both the Panthers and the Coast Guard in the same weekend will not be an easy task, the Bulldogs are confident they can come away with a pair of wins and the title.

“Did it once, we’ll probably be able to do it again,” Moscow said.

A Yale men’s rugby player tries to evade two defenders. The Bulldogs, who are undefeated this season, are headed to the semifinals of the Div. II Northeastern Championships this weekend in Amherst, Mass. after cruising by Colgate, 35-7, last Saturday.
Courtesy MatthewDevlin
A Yale men’s rugby player tries to evade two defenders. The Bulldogs, who are undefeated this season, are headed to the semifinals of the Div. II Northeastern Championships this weekend in Amherst, Mass. after cruising by Colgate, 35-7, last Saturday.

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