MCRC Fall 13-11 to Boston College

By Tom Clayton

Boston College (BC) edged the Middlebury College Rugby Club (MCRC) 13-11 at Burlington Tree Farm on Saturday, Nov. 3. The loss drops the Blue to 5-1 on the season. They trail BC at the top of the East Coast Rugby Conference (ECRC) standings by two points, though BC’s season is over, and the Blue have one match remaining.

“We didn’t play up to our usual standard,” said coach John Phillips, “and BC played very well, so it is what it is.”

MCRC had scored 48, 91 and 49 points in their last three matches respectively, and no fewer than 23 points in a single match all season. In their previous five matches they had averaged almost 49 points per game. The unusually low output on Saturday cost the Blue the match and their undefeated season.

“We are a team that traditionally puts a lot of points on the board. In the game we dominated both possession and field position” said eight-man Laird Silsby ’15. “We spent a good amount of the game in the BC half, and we were just unable to capitalize on opportunities.”

BC silenced the high-scoring MCRC attack by holding their pack across the width of the field and bringing down Blue runners at first contact. As a result, Middlebury’s dynamic outside runners found little room to manouver at the margins of the field.

“There were a few moments in the game when we felt that we’d found some holes in their defense,” said inside-center Dylan Whitaker ’13, “but unfortunately those never quite materialized into tries.”

Allan Stafford ’13 did manage to find a gap at the edge of the Boston College line to reach the corner of the try zone in the first half. But Stafford was the lone Middlebury runner to touch down for a five-point try.

The Blue limited BC to a single try as well. But an excess of penalties near the opponents try zone allowed the visitors to build a narrow margin on conversion points.

After the match MCRC could only credit the strong effort of their toughest conference rival.

“In the end, it turned out to be one of those games where nothing quite clicked like we wanted it to, where a stray breeze or slip in the mud might end up a costly mistake, and BC did a good job of capitalizing on their opportunities,” said Whitaker.

MCRC travels to New Haven, Conn. to play Southern Connecticut State University on Saturday, Nov. 11 in a match that was rescheduled after a cancellation due to inclement weather on Sept. 29.

With a win on Saturday in New Haven the Blue can secure the ECRC league championship.

“The defeat has really refocused our team,” said Silsby. “I think that overall the energy going into practice this week is going to be high because everyone on the team understands how important a victory this Saturday is for the Club.”

In their second season playing at  the Division I-AA level, MCRC have asserted their position as one of the strongest clubs in the East Coast Rugby Conference. In the league’s Sevens tournament in early October, the Blue lost in the final to Northeastern University after defeating the other conference rivals handily. Playing seven on seven, they beat Southern Connecticut 35-0.

This weekend, playing with 15 men on each side, the stakes are even higher. The match will be the last of the fall season for MCRC.

“The bottom line is, we need to perform well,” said Phillips. “If we do that we should win the game and win the league.”

With the win the Blue will qualify for the USA Rugby National Tournament in the spring. The ECRC champion gets a bid to the round of 16.