MCRC Dismantles UCONN in 93-6 Blowout

By Owen Teach

Coming off a bye week and sitting atop the East Coast Rugby Conference at 3-0, the Middlebury College Rugby Club (MCRC) set its sights on a tilt with  University of Connecticut (UConn) this past Saturday, Oct. 12 to keep pace in its quest for the conference’s top spot and a trip to the postseason. The Huskies did not prove to be much of a threat to MCRC, as the Panthers converted a staggering 12 tries en route to a 93-6 victory. Jake Feury ’16 once again led all players in scoring with four tries and two conversions, while nine other MCRC players also got in on the scoring act. The 93-point scoring output from the Panthers more than doubled the point total put up by any other team in an ECRC match this season.

Coming into the contest against a struggling UConn side, the club viewed the contest as an ability to send a warning shot to other teams in the country.

“We wanted to go into the game with the idea of sending a message – UCONN is historically weaker than other teams in the conference, but that didn’t mean we wanted to take them lightly or rest any of our key players, who all played the majority of the game,” senior advisor Dusty Attwood-Dupont ’13.5 said. “We just want people to think either: that was a hard game we just played against Middlebury or we still have to play Middlebury. ”

Fullback Allan Stafford ’13.5 echoed Attwood-Dupont’s remarks.

“It was important to send a message because we want other teams to look at the score and be afraid to play us,” Stafford said. “It’s a mentality thing: we want the other team to think we’re the best team out there. I wouldn’t say we ran up the score, but we tried to do a lot of things that we did in practice that week and put them into the game.”

While the side started things off strong in the first 20 minutes, the first half’s second portion left something to be desired for MCRC.

“We put a few quick tries on the board and then I think got complacent. In the second half of the first half we started playing a little slower, we got lackadaisical and had a few stupid penalties in the breakdown and around the ruck,” Attwood-Dupont said. “What you don’t want to see, especially playing a team like this, is us playing down to them, and I think we did that for 15 or 20 minutes in that first half.”

All things considered, however, the Panthers were handily in control for most of the contest. The dominance came in large part because of strong play from back row players Ben Stasiuk ’13.5, Griffin Jones ’16 and Laird Silsby ’15.

“When you have Laird, Ben or Griffin, who are all large, athletic players going up against small wings and centers on UConn it’s easy for those three to break the line and keep moving the ball through and we did that successfully,” Attwood-Dupont said. “In our second half we were able to put together a team effort – it allowed the back line to get the ball, move it into our athletic forwards’ hands and run onto UCONN players, which were clearly not up to the challenge especially later in the game.”

MCRC certainly pulled away late in the game, converting more than 60 points in the second half to ignite the route. Besides the leading scorer Feury, were Stafford (two), Sam Schwarz ’14, Stasiuk, John Hawly ’14, Jones, Silsby, Alex Ruocco ’14 and Madison Stebbins ’14 also put tries on the board.

The Panthers take on the University of Albany this Saturday, Oct. 19, another team struggling to gain points in the standing and sitting just one spot above UConn.

For Stafford, now is no time to get complacent for his club.

“We are going to approach Albany the same way we approached UCONN. We are going to practice the same, do the same amount of fitness and not change anything. Saturday is the ‘be all end all,’ just as it is every week and we are going to make sure the team knows that,” he said. “The attitude will come top down from the coaches and the captains and we will make sure no one is joking around. If you are joking around, you are not going to play.”

Following this Saturday’s game, MCRC heads to Boston College on Saturday, Oct. 26 for a game that will likely determine ECRC’s automatic representative to the D1-AA National Tournament. The Eagles defeated Middlebury 13-11 last season.

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