The Yale rugby team battled with Brown head-on in a pair of games during Family Weekend only to have its previous Ivy League winning streak broken by two losses to the Bears.

The Elis were poised to win entering the weekend after their stunning conference victories over Cornell and Columbia the past two weekends. The team swept the floor with Cornell, boasting a 77-point difference, and achieved a 67-point win over Columbia, but its victorious streak was cut short as the Bears chewed up the Bulldogs. Despite its valiant effort, Yale’s two games ended unfavorably with scores of 32–12 in the first XV and 17–7 in the Development XV.

“Our defense was especially strong,” Alex O’Neill ’20 said. “We forced them to kick the ball a lot, but unfortunately … there were a couple times where we missed some crucial passes, or made some bad decisions when it came to penalties and things like that. … We gave Brown a couple of opportunities that they capitalized on. But for the most part, we put in a good effort.”

Midway through the first half of the opening game Brown secured three points over Yale’s nil, with the Bears’ score edging up to five while the Yalies scored their first three points thanks to Mahlon Sorensen ’22. The first game, having reached halftime with a score of 8–5 Brown, still ended in defeat for the Elis even after player and photo editor for the News Lucas Holter ’21 added another seven points to the Bulldogs’ score.

The Development XV ended with a smaller gap between the Elis and the Bears, but with a final 10-point difference nonetheless. The game was particularly dicey during the first half, which ended at 17–0 in Brown’s favor, but captain Khaleel Rajwani ’20 scored to put the Elis on the scoreboard with a respectable seven points.

Though both games ended in losses, the team is optimistic about its future performances.

“We are excited to see what the team can achieve in the second half of the season after working so hard during our preseason and leading the conference after the first two games,” Holter said. “Coming into the game against Brown, we knew we would be facing an experienced and skilled side,” Holter added as he noted Brown’s 2018 victory in the Ivy Rugby 7’s Tournament.

Yale club rugby, established in 1875, last made its way to nationals in 1999. Team alumni include former U.S. President George W. Bush ’68 and Mark Nemec ’91, president of Fairfield University. The team’s titles include the 2004 Beast of the East Northeast Division I Champions and the 2005 New England Division II Champions.

After Saturday’s matches the Elis are preparing for their next home tournament against Dartmouth on Oct. 13, followed by a match against Harvard for the away semifinals on Oct. 27. The finals will be held on Nov. 10.

I’m looking forward to play[ing] Harvard and Dartmouth because I know that our team is going to improve exponentially after our defeat,” Lucas Wiseman ’22 said. “Dartmouth is going to be our biggest challenge yet, so we have to give it all we’ve got.”

This year marks the 49th anniversary of the Ivy League Rugby Championship Tournament since its inception in 1969.

Valerie Pavilonis |