Great weekend with Middlebury Rugby alumni in town! We had around 25 alumni from the past 3 decades reliving the glory days both on and off the field. Captained by fly-half Brian Napack ’83 the alumni team had a great showing for the game against the students, which the alumni won 24 – 5. With the students having two games against URI and several students being away for fall break the alumni had to loan the students 3 players to make it 15 on 15. Those younger alumni, namely Chris Goodrich ’10, Sam Tormey ’09 and Nick Fager ’09 did not hold back against their alumni counterparts and made it a much more competitive match. The students also benefited from the timely return of retired senior Harry Mwaki Magotswi ’11 who is a member of the Kenyan line that has so greatly impacted Middlebury rugby over the past decade. The game was officiated by Chris Mutty ’09.5, former MCRC captain and now New England certified ref.
The alumni forwards work rate was characteristic of Middlebury rugby: exhaustive! Led by flanker John “Duke” Wellington ’83 the all star forwards crushed their opposition…often by diving onto them in the rucks, which the ref continually penalized the alumni for but with little effect on actually stopping them from using this intimidation tactic. The writer having been at the bottom of such a ruck can attest to the fear it arouses! Great pick and drives and offloads in the tackle by the alumni forwards kept the momentum going forward.
Match analysis by player below (in alphabetical order–all complete!):
Jamie Donovan ’94: Propped in an all 90′s front-row but took a knock to his knee in the first half that ended his game early. Jamie reports that his knee is almost back to 100% and he is looking forward to next year’s runaround. The injury could not stop him from showing off his dance moves later that evening.
Nick Fager ’09: Graciously volunteered to play on the student side to make the game 15 on 15 and the speedy fly half caused the alumni team no end of troubles. Connected well with Mwaki on the student side and after switching over to the alumni team Nicky continued to make some great runs.
Chris Goodrich ’10: Fell victim to the age bias and played the whole game for the student team. Chris ran and tackled well and miracle of miracles managed not to break his glasses. Chris did not have his contacts and without his glasses he would have been as good as blind so he wore them despite everyone’s recommendations and protected them in contact (not a very reassuring tactic but it worked…blows my mind but it worked).
Tommy Heitkamp ’06.5: The unstoppable winger does not seem to have missed a beat since he graduated. No one can run down a touchline filled with defenders without being pushed out like Tommy can. The try scorer picks up a hat-trick on the day and his disappearance in the late afternoon suggests he went on a short marathon to cool down. Hope you enjoyed seeing you nephew Tommy!
Blake Hinckley ’10 : Former MCRC president and one of the youngest alumni on the field. To quote Blake after the game “I ran with the ball more times in this alumni game then I ever did as a student playing rugby.” The writer can vouch for the accuracy of this statement.
Phil Huffman ’84: The nimble eighthman was all over the park covering breakdown after breakdown combining well with the rest of the 80′s loose trio. Between Huffman and Wellington the students were in for a long day of being crushed.
Sahir Iqbal ’08: The Georgetown rugby assistant coach had not played rugby in over 2 years, coming on in the 2nd half. After shaking off the dust Iqbal found his stride connecting well with the rest of the backline. After the game Sahir was eager to play more and there is little doubt he will be seen at numerous MCRC alumni games in the future.
Max “Luigi” Levine ’09: Former MCRC President and Captain. The ultra-competitive Maine native had more than his fair share of vocal exchanges with former teammate and ref Chris Mutty ’09 who penalized Levine multiple times for bridging to the player’s clearly expressed chagrin. After moving from outside center Levine played 9 man where he seemed more at home able to make plays out of nothing. In the second half Levine switched to the student team to give Sam Tormey some time on the alumni side.
David McDermott ’97: The former scrum-half was beaten to grabbing the 9 jersey by Robinson and Levine and so took up the wing position for the first time and had a cracking game…when his backline would pass him the ball. With Craig “Still Not Known For My Willingness to Pass” Wilson inside him David was unlikely to see that much of the ball but when he did he made the most of it, barreling past the gain line and setting up the next phase.
Andy Mitchell ’96: Andy came off the bench in the second half but many supporters were confused as to which team he was playing for: despite being offered the alumni team blue jerseys Andy chose to wear his own Blue & White kit. The big flanker quickly showed he was on the alumni side with some crashing breaks up the midfield requiring several students to bring him down.
Chris Mutty ’09.5: The controversial ref made few friends with his fair and unbiased calling…clearly he did not get the email about favoring the alumni. This travesty was easily explained away by Mutty’s youth and naiveté. Max Levine ’09 despite his similar youth was quick to very vocally point out Chris’ consistent lack of bias. Thanks Mutty for making this game possible!
Brian Napack ’83: Coolly captained the side from the fly half position and distributed the ball well connecting with inside center Muchadei Zvoma ’07 on several pops. He also showed his physical toughness in getting back to his feet without even a wince after taking the hit of the day (including all games played) from flanker Sam Tormey ’09, who started the game on the student side. Brian shook off the tackle like dust from his shoulders and carried on a fine performance converting two tries.
James Robinson ’84: A former Midd rugby captain, James started off the game at scrum-half before turning over the responsibilities to his employee Max “Luigi” Levine ’09. After this change Jim got his first taste in the front-row. With scrums being uncontested there was not too much to worry about in playing novice front-rowmen. His signature diving pass from the 9 was seen early on, though the intended recipient may not have been as clear as the athleticism of the dive would suggest.
John Seamans ’83, P’13: The flanker was out and about looking for contact wherever it dared to be found. Worked well with his all 80′s loose trio – clearly these 3 have played together before. The exquisite shiner Seamans is now sporting on his forehead is a battle mark that he should wear with pride – whether it was a student or the field or a combination of both that caused the bruise is not clear but we are 100% sure that Seamans emerged from the incident victorious.
Pete Stevens ’96: The other prop in the all 90′s front row, Pete was explosive around the rucks and mauls. On every single defensive lineout, without fail, Pete would stand a few meters from the lineout and charge in as the throw was made. The referee could not even begin to cover the number of laws this broke and instead opted to just let the game be played as his early pleas fell on more focused ears.
Walter Swanson ’96: Played hooker and led the all 90′s front row. Despite the referee calling for uncontested scrums Walter managed to steal several of the student scrums. In his defense “uncontested” refers to pushing in the scrum not hooking in the scrum. The young student hooker Erik “Escobar” Fendik ’12.5 stood no chance against the hairpin trigger footed Swanson.
Sam “Stormey” Tormey ’09: Also played with the student side in the first half and some of the second. Laid out more hits than your favorite DJ during this game including the previously mentioned Napack tackle. Stormey admits to being offside on the tackle–the only reason he caught the wiley Napack off-guard.
Craig “Sparta” Wilson ’07.5: Another former captain. Having lost 20 lbs since his playing days Sparta is much more likely to chip it over the top than to run at players these days. Some of his kicks were well placed beauties that turned the defense around and allowed the alums to advance. His soccer skills came into play when he volleyed a loose ball into the try zone saving a potentially costly turnover situation. Great instincts from Jersey boy.
John “Duke” Wellington ’83: The big flanker led the forwards as they outmuscled the students–really emphasizing the fact that it was boys playing men. His work in clearing the rucks was exemplary ensuring clean ball for the alumni backline. On occasion the backline followed his instruction to “not screw up” the hard fought balls the forwards won for them.
Luke “Moose” Yoquinto ’08: Former MCRC captain and the biggest man on the field by far. This second row player still plays competitive rugby for the Boston Rugby Club and it showed. He led the forwards in carries fending off defender after defender in Goliath fashion, his runs marked by his signature moose call from fans on the sidelines. Every now and again a David on the student side would manage to topple this giant.
Muchadei Zvoma ’07: The Middlebury assistant coach had the chips stacked against him with all of his players eager to see his embarrassment on the field. They even coaxed Kenyan center Mwaki out of retirement to deal with him. The roars that greeted him whenever he was tackled could not shake the Zimbabwean center…his major issue appeared to be keeping his shoelaces tied though this did allow him several much needed breaks. Zvoma switched onto the student team in the second half to give Fager a run with the alumni. A rare treat for any coach to actually play alongside his players but it has been suggested he stick to his forte: writing, not playing, rugby.
Coaching Staff: Daniel “Where’s My Credit Card” Kagan ’83, Dan “Tum Tum” Chow ’09, Connor “Projectile” Keeshan ’08.5, Chaz “I need to express my emotions more” Wirene ’07
Post-Game Arrival: Steve Kiernan ’82 (who also wins the award for being the oldest alum in attendance)