MCRC wins Conference Championship!!!
On a absolutely beautiful fall day The MCRC defeated Southern Connecticut 40-5 to win the last game of the season and clinch the team’s first ever Conference Championship in D-IAA. The Championship, glorious by itself, is extra sweet in that it includes a bid thru to Nationals in the spring.
That’s right, Middlebury Rugby is going back to Nationals! It is the club’s sixth trip to Nationals in the last seven years, but the very first in D-IAA.
Today also marked the last game for our graduating seniors. All-American Captain Brian Sirkia ’12.5 led the Blue onto the field for the final time, and, as he has done for the last four years, led the team for the next 80 minutes, scoring 2 tries (the ref didn’t see the third, but we did!), and drilling 5 conversions to lead all scorers once again.
Today is a very special day in the history of Middlebury Rugby and we thank you all for all your support!!
Full match report below:
The game against SoConn opens up with the teams trading kicks and penalties for the first ten minutes. Middlebury threatens repeatedly, but is unable to put points on the board. Strong breaks by the Blue ultimately lead to a lineout deep in opposition territory. After securing the ball, the pack draws in the defense with a series of punishing pick and drives, before scrumhalf Don “Strong Juan” Song ’13 spins the ball out to Sirkia, who slices through the defense like a light-saber through butter and crosses over for the game’s opening try. He calmly connects his conversion and the score is 7-0 14 minutes in.
The referee is calling a tremendously tight game, and one too many penalties for not releasing the ball sees 8-man Laird “Godzilla” Silsby sin-binned. The blue scrum, operating a man down, begins to crush the opposing pack. A savage front row of Cliff “Kraken” Hanich ’15, Sam “Gluten Free” Finkleman ’14.5, and Cole “George Washington” Baker ’16 batter the SoConn front row into submission. The Blue engine room of locks Captain Ben “Sturgees” Stasiuk ’13.5 and Tom “Wildman” Lynch ’14 never looked stronger, while flanks Griffin “Hip Flexor” Jones and John “Scooter” Hawley fly all over the pitch chasing whatever scraps the tight five leave for them.
After spending ten minutes of quiet and deep introspection, Silsby rejoins his mates on the pitch. Fresh legs and a newfound inner peace help Silsby break through the gain line on an absurd support line and touch down for the second try of the game. Sirkia drills it. 14-0 at the 30 minute mark.
As halftime approaches, the Blue defense holds strong as SoConn manages to string together a few sequences of strong play. Midd regains possession after Dylan “I just want to tackle” Whitaker rips the ball out of the arms of a southern Connecticut front-rower. Sirkia gets the ball, presses turbo, and he’s gone. A solid 60 meters and 3 or 4 dummies later, he is in the try-zone celebrating. The referee, unfortunately, believes that everyone’s favorite Canadian was held-up.
No matter. Minutes later, on the final play of the half, Sirkia’s co-captain, Stasiuk, takes a pop, runs parallel to the try line as if searching for that elusive Proctor parking space and then dives across when a gap opens up. Sirkia goes 3-3 and the Blue lead 21-0 at the half.
At halftime, the MCRC brain trust turn towards the bench where they see try-machine and mustache aficionado Allan “El Natural” Stafford ’13.5 anxiously pacing like his wife is in labor. Stafford is brought on for Alex “Coco Puffs” Ruocco ’14 on the wing. Ruocco started playing rugby just this past spring and has already become a vital contributor, earning his Blue during this, the last game of the season.
The boys from Midd take control of the game as the forwards begin asserting their will on the Southern pack. A 30-meter maul here…a scrum stolen there…the Boys in Blue are dominating the contact area.
A great boot from center Adam “MuttonChops” Schreiber ’14 earns the Blue a lineout at the opposition 20. Time for some set-piece magic.
Baker throws an absolute dime to Hawley, who is approximately 75 feet off the ground thanks to lifters Stasiuk and Lynch. Hawley sends it off the top to Don “watch the hair” Song who flings a lazer out to Sirkia. Fearful of the canuck’s side-step, the SoConn defense forgets about the big 8 man. Sirkia draws the defense and pops to Silsby whose acceleration onto the ball epitomizes “taking it at pace.” Try number two on the day for the sophomore, who chooses a great day to play the best game this author has yet to see out of him. Credit to the coaching staff on this try. The blue lineout added a fair number of wrinkles this year to help attack off the set piece, and they put it all together beautifully on this play. Sirkia converts his fourth straight and Middlebury leads 28-0 eight minutes into the 2nd half.
Three minutes later a beautiful attack highlighted by superlative support play culminates in Captain Sirkia touching down in the corner for his second score of the day. The kick is from the touchline and even Superman Sirkia can’t make this one: 33-0 Midd.
Jebb “The best facial hair on campus” Norton 13.5 subs on for Geoff “Just a little upper circuit” Genova ’15 at the other wing. Great game by Genova who seems to have found a home on the wing this fall.
Wonderful series of passing by the backline sees Stafford break free for a try under the posts (his tenth on the season). Particularly fine job of ball movement by Alec “Stir-fry” Mackenzie ’15, filling in at fullback for the dinged up Stafford. A superb sophomore campaign from Messr. Mackenzie. The support and ball movement are again note-worthy here, and somewhere a cork is popping, because THIS is some Champagne rugby! Sirkia drills the kick to put the Blue ahead 40-0 with only 16 minutes remaining.
In the final few mintues of the game, the SoConn pack keeps hammering away, finally managing to break over the try line. A tremendously impressive series of goal-line tackles by the blue pack kept SoConn waiting on the doorway for multiple phases, but credit to SoConn for fighting until the final minute, despite the game being out of reach. The kick is no good at the score stands at 40-5 with just minutes remaining.
Middlebury knows the game is in hand and all eyes are on the clock and the referee. Finally the ball is drilled to touch, and the final whistle of the season blows and Middlebury are 2012 East Coast Champions!!