On a beautiful fall day The MCRC opened the 2013 season with a strong 28-12 win over conference rival UMass. The Blue dominated both territory and possession for long periods, but often came up one pass short of earning the score. Relentless pressure paid off over time, however, as Middlebury scored first and slowly build a lead which they would never relinquish. Final score 28-12 with Middlebury’s four tries coming from four different players, and two sharing the kicking duties.
Full match report to come.
The MCRC opened up their regular season at home against UMass Amherst. It was a perfect day for rugby with beautiful sunshine and temperatures hovering around 65 degrees.
In the opening minutes of the game Midd came out strong, hammering UMass in the center of the field, but unfortunately knocking on a few times. No matter, as the Blue pack slammed UMass in each successive scrum. Flanker Griffin “Pack Animal” Jones ’16 and outside center Jake “My Hair is Better than Yours” Feury ’16 demonstrated some impeccable tackling technique, repeatedly driving the Minutemen back.
Middlebury also struggled to win clean ball in the lineout and reverted to sheer physical domination. Experienced veterans like flanker Devin “Shifty” Risinger ‘14 made sure we kept control with constant poaching and aggressive style. The first real chance for points came with a penalty 12 minutes in, but flyhalf Adam “Big Boot” Schreiber’s ’14 kick it wide. The Blue knows that when you have an opponent pinned back in their own 22 you need to keep them there, and that’s just what they did. After an athletic block on a an attempted clearing kick, wing Alex “El Diablo” Ruocco ’14 collects the loose ball and runs it in for Middlebury’s first try. The conversion is no good and Middlebury holds a narrow 5-0 lead.
The next 15 minutes are back and forth, with neither team able to turn opportunities into points. Finally at the 30 minute mark the MCRC earns another penalty within striking distance. Schreiber slots it home at the Blue is on top 8-0.
The teams continue to trade blows and Umass punches thru just minutes before the half with an unconverted try. The whistle sounds and the halftime score is 8-5 in favor of the home team.
Regrouped and refreshed, the Blue begins the second half with more pressure, quickly earning a penalty just four minutes in. Feury takes over the kicking duties and drives the ball through the uprights to make the score 11-5. Just two minutes later Midd hammers down on UMass, forcing them backwards. Schreiber chips a ball over the heads of the Minutemen in midfield with Allan “El Naturel” Stafford ’13.5 bearing down. Stafford collects, steps and is gone, touching down Middlebury’s second try of the day. Feury nails the conversion to put Midd up 18-5.
The fitness of the Boys in Blue begins to show and Middlebury maintains control of the action and allows the Minutemen few opportunities. The control, pressure and teamwork pay off with Feury scoring a try after some beautiful multi-phase work. He is unable to convert his own score, and the score is 23-5 Middlebury with 17 minutes remaining.
The MCRC continue to pressure and the forwards earn the ever important fourth try at the 30 minute mark.. The fourth try both extends the lead and earns the team a bonus point in the ECRC standings. With a short regular season and good teams all around, every point matters!
Umass scores a consolation try in the final moments on a rare defensive lapse by the Blue, but it’s too little too late. Middlebury wins 28-12, earns that ever-important bonus point, and starts off the season just right!
Thank you UMass for driving up to Middlebury for our home opener. It was a well-fought match and we wish you well during the rest of your season. Many thanks also to our new best friends the Middlebury College Pep Band, and to all our fans who turned out in record numbers.