Having pulled off a 59-0 victory against the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute last Saturday, the men’s rugby team is off to Princeton for the Ivy League Championships this weekend.
Yale entered the game against first division R.P.I. Saturday expecting a sizable challenge.
“We expected the game to be harder than it was,” team member Alexander Stegall ’02 said. “But this was the first time R.P.I. was on the field this spring, so we had an advantage there.”
R.P.I. played well during the first half, but the Bulldogs’ superior conditioning allowed them to take all the points. Once Yale scored its first point, the ball really started rolling.
“They came out pretty hard, but once we got the first score in, they started to capitulate a bit,” team president Alexander Kallmann ’01 said. “Their morale was sinking.”
In addition to breaking the Engineers’ morale, the Elis maintained their discipline and focused on staying together as a team.
“Our forwards were more tenacious and harder hitters,” team member Dara Mac Caba ’02 said. “There was a great sense of total team performance.”
Yale is going into the Ivy League Championships as the third seeded team, hoping to dethrone Dartmouth and Princeton — the first and second seeds, respectively — who have dominated Ivy League rugby for several years. Mac Caba said Dartmouth and Princeton are not currently playing as well as they have in previous years.
Meanwhile, Yale is at its all time best, Stegall said.
But before the Elis can even think about the Big Green and Tigers, they will first face off against Cornell. Coincidentally, Yale played Cornell in the first round of the Ivies last year.
“They are a solid team with a real balance of talent,” Kallmann said. “But the skill play of our back line will overcome them.”
The Bulldogs defeated the Big Red 15-5 and Brown 3-0, but lost to Princeton 28-10. Yale finished third in last year’s tourney, while Dartmouth and Princeton claimed first and second, respectively.
When asked how the team would fare at this year’s championships, Mac Caba said the team would be well prepared.
“Many of us on the team started playing rugby as freshmen, and now we are juniors,” Mac Caba said. “As a result, we are very experienced.”
Mac Caba said the team will also rely on its depth.
“The freshmen are trained to be confident,” Mac Caba said. “They make a great second-string team.”
Kallmann said the team will engage in intense practices this week, during which they run through old plays and come up with new ones to prepare for the upcoming tournament.
Players agree that in order to win the championships, Yale must maintain the intensity with which it played last Saturday.
“We need to get a good week of practice in,” Stegall said. “We have a good shot this year for the first time in a while.”