A new wrinkle has been added to the alumni game meaning now these men of legend are pitted against each other on alumni and student mixed teams – as the score suggests this makes for a much more competitive affair. The White team dominates contact through MVP Zach “Business Casual Jr.” Bills ’11 and Chris “Shark” Marshall ’11. Flyhalf John Moretti ’95 distributes the ball amongst his skilled backline with poise. The Blue team rallies in the dying minutes, under the auspices of Craig “Sparta” Wilson ’07, Chris “Calves” Vandergrift ’11 and Josh “Pipes” Hendrickson ’07.5, with two impressive tries but it’s too little too late.
The Blue team plans are thrown to the wind moments before the game even starts when they lose star flyhalf Jim Robinson ’84 during the final part of warm-up (reminiscent of the All Blacks loss of Dan Carter during the World Cup 2011). The White team takes advantage of the ensuing disorganization amongst the Blue ranks to take complete control in the first half through powerful runs by number eight Marshall and the playmaking of flyhalf John Moretti ’95. Their first try comes when Drew “Mouse Jr.” Harasimowicz ’11 makes the well timed offload to winger Chris Kennedy ’15 who touches down.
The clear MVP of the game is the White team flanker and Marshall’s long time partner in mayhem on the rugby field: Zach Bills. Whereas every other alum shows, to differing degrees, the inevitable rust that comes with graduation and distance from competitive rugby at a high level the young Bills is at his deadly best both on offense and defense as Blue flyhalf Muchadei “Walk Before You Run” Zvoma ’07 learns on his flying lesson provided courtesy of Zach Bills with a devastating tackle. White team center Sam Harrison ’11 finds bitter-sweet satisfaction in knowing that his own award “The Sam Harrison ’11 Hit of the Game” has a more deserving recipient in Bills on this cool New England day! Nonetheless, in the surprise of the day, there is an even more deserving recipient than Bills for this honor and he comes in the unlikely form of freshman winger Brent “Classic” Nixon ’15. Playing for the Blue team Classic bursts from the post position of a defensive ruck to drill White team stand-in scrum-half Harasimowicz. Mouse Jr, the former wing turned lock, easily has at least 80 lbs on the young Nixon but one would not have guessed it from the distance Brent transports him with his highlight reel diving tackle — looks like Drew’s experiment at number 9 in this alumni game does not pay-off as expected.
Still the White team, led by Marshall and Bills, is clearly more aggressive at the breakdown and cause turnover after turnover, leading to four tries in the first 30 minutes of the 40 minute game. Great tackling by young prop Spencer Brown ’14 saves the The Blue team from a more uphill scoreline. Blue second rowmen Pat “Business Casual Sr.” Mott ’07 and Blake Hinckley ’08 try to to find holes on attack but the White defense is swarming limiting Blue to a single try in the first half. The points comes courtesy of a timely interception by Blue number 8 Josh “Pipes” Hendrickson who shows he still has that touch of magic and a keen eye for the ball.
In the final ten minutes the White team finds the spark they had been missing all game. Their aggressiveness in contact picks up and things start to fall their way scoring two quick tries through some purely explosive runs by their pacey Tanzanian winger James Ngeiyamu ’15 and Chris “Calves” Vandergrift ’11, the fastest frontrow over 100 meters to ever play for The MCRC. Wilson converts one kick setting up a tense final few minutes as the Blue team looks to mount an epic comeback. Wilson is eager to find an opportunity to unleash the famed “Joe Bergan” drop goal to tie the game but nothing materializes with the white team on the offensive. A loose ball is almost kicked through for what would have been an epic footrace on the final play but Blue team full back Logan Randolph ’14 foils.
Referee Chris Mutty ’09.5 blows the final whistle and brings an end to the proceedings. Solid officiating by the former hooker and many thanks to him for his efforts. A good game by the old boys is made great by the commitment and hard work of the students playing on either side so large thanks to them for adding this to their other rugby playing duties on that day (all of them also play in the 2nd XV game against UConn). The first in a new era of alumni games has come and gone and looks to stay — already looking forward to 2012!
Blue: Jason “JJ” Jude ’08, Chris Vandergrift ’11, Spencer Brown ’14, Blake Hinckley ’08, Pat Mott ’07, Elias Gilman ’15, Floyd, Josh “Pipes” Hendrickson ’07.5, Brendan Mahoney ’11, Muchadei Zvoma ’07, James Ngeiyamu ’15, Craig Wilson ’07.5, Kyle Courtney ’12, Brent Nixon ’15, Madison Stebbins ’14.5
White: Sean Meany ’08, Wally Swanson ’96, Stephen Etna ’15, Tyler Williams ’06, Jon Seamans ’83, Drew Harasimowicz ’11, Zach Bills ’11, Chris Marshall ’08, Stephen McKenna ’13.5, John Moretti ’95, Dan Johnson ’14, Sam Harrison ’11, Ben Cmejla ’11, Chris Kennedy ’15, Logan Randolph ’14
In attendance & support: Jeff “Mouse Sr.” Harasimowicz ’07, Chris Mutty ’09.5 (referee for alumni game), Jim Robinson ’84, Connor Keeshan ’08.5, Andrew Peters ’08.5, Daniel Chow ’09, Miguel Fernandez ’85 (referee for 1st team game), Chaz “Le Bleu” Wirene ’07, Ben “Since You’ve Been Gone” Winter ’10, Darragh “Dubstep” Hurley ’11