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On a sunny but cold and windy day The MCRC traveled north to St. Michael’s College. The Middlebury B and C sides faced off against St. Mike’s A and B sides over 120 minutes of rugby (three 40 minute periods). The Boys in Blue ran in 10 tries on the day, converting four, while holding St. Mike’s to 1 first period score. In the end, Middlebury’s fitness and depth at nearly all positions allowed the Blue to keep the collective foot firmly stomped on the gas pedal and pull away as the match progressed.

1st period score: 10-5

2nd period score: 21-0

3rd period score: 27-0

Final score: 58-7

The action marked the final tune-up before the National Playoffs next week in Pittsburgh. Many thanks to St. Mike’s for hosting and for a great day of rugby!

USA Rugby has announced the playoff brackets for the 2013 DI-AA National Playoffs.

Middlebury will play St. Bonaventure at 12:30pm on Saturday, April 27 in the Round of 16, while Pitt and Dartmouth square off at the same time.

The winners of the Saturday matches meet in the National Quarterfinal on Sunday, April 28 at 11am. The consolation match is held at the same time.

See the full bracket here: http://rugbymag.com/index.php/men’s-di-college/7778-di-aa-playoff-bracket-set.html

The MCRC played a depleted Burlington Men’s Rugby Club yesterday, and ran in eight tries en route to a dominating 53-7 victory. Captain Ben Stasiuk ’13.5 scored the lone forwards try, while five different backs touched down for scores. High School All-American Jake “How’s my hair?” Feury ’16 led all scoring with 23 points, scoring 2 tries, 1 penalty and 5 conversions.

Extra snaps go out to five Middlebury ruggers who suited up for Burlington and played outstanding rugby all day: Graham Shaw ’16, Miller Judge ’16, Timmy Macrae ’16, Tucker Hopkins ’16 and Geoff Genova ’15.

Up next The Blue sends the B-side to St. Michaels on Saturday, April 20 for the last chance to tune-up before heading to Nationals in less than 2 weeks.

FIRST XV: Cliff Hanich ’15, Aaron Yappert ’16, Charlie Kunze ’15 (First start, non-competitive), Ben Stasiuk (C) ’13.5, Tom Lynch ’14, Griffin Jones ’16, Devin Risinger ’14, Luke Dauner ’13, Sam Schwarz ’16 (First start, non-competitive), Dusty Attwood-Dupont ’13.5, David Cromwell ’16, Alec Mackenzie ’15, Jake Feury ’16, Taran Veerman ’15, Allan Stafford ’13.5

RESERVES: Nate Brown ’13, Blake Shapskinsky ’15, Ethan Vorel ’14.5

SPOTTED AT THE GAME: Chris Vandergrift ’11, Drew Harasimowicz ’11, Brian Sirkia ’12.5, Nat Kelner ’12.5, AC Jones ’12.5

Brockport cancels match

Citing lack of school support Brockport informed Middlebury on Monday that they would be unable to travel to Vermont for the scheduled match on 4/13.

With our fields under snow, we wondered how we would find an opponent on such short notice. Fortunately, our new friends, The Burlington Men’s Rugby Club, will be hosting us at Fort Ethan Allen in Winooski in a rematch of last week.

With many players returning from injury, we look forward to a quality game of rugby!

Unfortunately, the much anticipated blast from the past clash with Coast Guard on 4/6 was cancelled by Coast Guard, who cited budget concerns. Fortunately, the Burlington Men’s Rugby Club was also looking for a match to tune up for their spring season. The cold spring sun shone down on Youngman Field, as 30 men took to the turf.

A plague of injuries had swept thru The MCRC the preceding week, so many new faces donned the Blue, with many of those sporting a novel number on their backs.

Before the match began, the teams worked a variety of situations with the ref keeping close watch. For nearly 25 minutes the two teams traded kick-offs, scrums and lineouts, each time playing for just a phase or two before re-starting at the next set piece. Middlebury looked in the top form early on, the forwards running some beautiful scrums and lineouts. Eightman Laird “Godzilla” Silsby ’15 was looking especially sharp, but unfortunately injured his knee after a 50 meter break in one of the last plays before gametime.

Once underway, the match showed that this was an excellent match-up. Two new, young Scottish centers for Burlington showed what a dominant duo can do and scorched the Midd backline for three tries in the first half. But the boys in Blue fought back, and scored thru the forwards before the half. Keep your eye on freshman phenom David “I am The Natural” Cromwell, who has exploded onto the rugby scene, and with his electric play is threatening to steal Allan “El Natural” Stafford’s nickname right out from under him.

The Middlebury scrum, accustomed to dominating competition, battled all day long with the BRFC. It was a great experience for the three freshman in the front row to go up against a big and experienced pack. We won some, and lost some, and certainly learned plenty. Overall terrific job including stand-out performances from first time starters Graham “I need a nickname” Shaw, and Miller “So do I” Judge. Senior veteran Luke Dauner also had a stormer while taking over the #8 duties.

The second half saw sweeping changes for the Middlebury line-up, including a host of players making their rugby debut. The newbies more than held their own, and put together some classic phases, while winning the 2nd half 2 tries to 1. Final tally, Burlington 4 tries, Midd 3 (there was no kicking for points.)

After the game the two teams enjoyed freshly grilled, all-beef hamburgers covered in melted queso americano under the finally warm sun. Thanks to Burlington for a great day of rugby!

FIRST XV: Graham Shaw ’16 (First start, non-competitive), Miller Judge ’16 (First start, non-competitive), Cole Baker ’16, Ben Stasiuk (C) ’13.5, Tom Lynch ’14, Nate Brown ’13, Devin Risinger ’14, Luke Dauner ’13, Griffin Jones ’16, Dusty Attwood-Dupont ’13.5, David Cromwell ’16 (First start, non-competitive), Taran Veerman ’15, Tucker Hopkins ’16 (First start, non-competitive), Geoff Genova ’15, Allan Stafford ’13.5

Substitutes: Charlie “Mono” Kunze ’15 (First game at Middlebury), Astor Nummelin Carlberg ’13.5, Blake Shapskinsky ’15, Patrick Devereux ’15, Will Schwartz ’16 (First rugby game ever), Eli Feinberg ’16, Ethan Vorel ’14.5, Parker Henz ’16 (First rugby game ever), Tariq Monsour ’16 (First rugby game ever), Lucas Onetti ’15, Jessy Jimenez ’16

Spotted at the game: Andrew Jones ’12.5, Nat Kelner ’12.5, Brian Sirkia ’12.5

MCRC Wins Twice

In the first tune-up of the spring season, The MCRC traveled to Hamilton, NY and defeated Colgate twice on a beautiful spring day.  With many new faces in the line-up, especially in the backline, Middlebury dominated from the start en route to a 34-7 victory.

The B-side continued the overpowering play begun by the first side running away with a 49-7 victory. The future looks bright, and BLUE, with many first and second year players beginning to make their mark.

Many thanks to Colgate for hosting and we wish them all the best in the DII playoffs.

Middlebury controlled the action from the opening kick-off, keeping the ball deep in Colgate’s territory. The Blue broke thru when Captain Ben “Sturgees” Stasiuk ’13.5 punched thru a gap and touched down for the try 8 minutes in. Jake “Is it the shoes?” Feury is unable to convert from out wide. 5-0 Midd.

The Blue continues to apply pressure and dominates both possession and territory, but is unable to convert it into points. Finally scrumhalf turned center Alec “Beefcake” Mackenzie ’15 slices and dices thru the defense for the team’s 2nd try of the day. Feury converts and the lead is 12-0 after 18 minutes.

Apparently Feury was tired of converting other people’s tries, so four minutes later he took matters into his own hands with a powerful counter run. He converts his own score giving Midd a 19-0 lead after 22 minutes of play.

But just when it looked like The Blue would run away with it, Colgate switched to another gear. The hosts were able to keep the Blue in our own half for extended phases, and the halftime whistle blows with the score still 19-0.

Halftime sees Laird “Godzilla” Silsby ’15 come on at #8, David “Squash is a vegetable” Cromwell ’16 and Taran “Who, me?” Veerman ’15 take over on the wings for fellow freshman/sophomore tandem of “Jazzy” Geoff Genova ’15, and Ted “Running Back” Benge ’16. Benge earns his first cap for the Blue today and celebrates by making big hits throughout.  This also marks the first ever rugby match for Mr. Cromwell, and it is for Middlebury’s A-side. Who knows what could happen (consider this foreshadowing…).

The second half begins like the first, with Captain Stasiuk breaking open the scoring with another powerful run. Feury converts to make it 26-0.

Astor “Dance of the Elves” Nummelin Carlberg ’13.5 comes in for Nate “Nosering” Brown ’13 and immediately makes a difference at the breakdown. He blasts ruck after ruck and unfortunately comes off with an injury just 10 minutes later.

Colgate finally gets on the board when their winger turns the corner and scores under the posts. 26-7 Midd 17 minutes into the half.

The teams trade blows across the pitch. The Blue scrum dominates, and snaps must be given to what is becoming a very special front row: Cliff “Kraken” Hanich ’15, Aaron “Gems on Gems” Yappert ’16 and Cole “Leather Jacket” Baker ’16. Mr. Hanich is having an absolutely dominant spring and we look forward to the big man making some noise in the playoffs. Baker has stepped in to anchor the scrum at tighthead and from what we’ve seen so far it’s unlikely any will wrestle the job away from him anytime in the next few years. Meanwhile Yappert played his first game for Middlebury at wing, but has since settled in at hooker, and looks to have a strangle-hold on the position.

Suddenly at the 31 minute mark debutant David Cromwell show a surprising (indeed, Kelner-esque) turn of pace and shreds the defence, touching down his first ever try in his first ever game… ever. Wow. Ever. The conversion from the corner is wide, and the score is 31-7.

Five minutes later Middlebury earns a penalty and Feury slots it home to extend the lead. The score is 34-7 Middlebury with just a few minutes remaining.

Graham Shaw ’16 comes on for Hanich at loosehead to make his A-side debut, but the freshman doesn’t get a chance to make many hits. The final whistle blows and Middlebury has the victory 34-7.

Extra snaps to flanker Griffin Jones ’16 who stepped in for his first-ever game at #9 and did a great job all day long, and to Dusty Attwood-Dupont ’13.5 for his first game in over 2 years. Dusty didn’t look like he had missed a day, and we look forward to having him at #10 for the next year.

FIRST XV: Cliff Hanich ’15, Aaron Yappert ’16 (first start, non-competitive), Cole Baker ’16, Tom Lynch ’14, Blake Shapskinsky ’15, Ben Stasiuk (C) ’13.5, Nate Brown ’13, Luke Dauner ’13, Griffin Jones ’16, Dusty Attwood-Dupont ’13.5, Ted Benge ’16 (first start, non-competitive), Alec Mackenzie ’15, Jake Feury ’16, Geoff Genova ’15, Allan Stafford ’13.5.

RESERVES: Graham Shaw ’16, Laird Silsby ’15, Miller Judge ’16, Demetrius Borge ’16, Astor Nummelin Carlberg ’13.5, David Cromwell ’16, Taran Veerman ’15, Sam Schwarz ’16

Match moved to Colgate

Due to pretty much every grass field in Vermont being covered in snow, The MCRC’s first spring match against Colgate has been moved to Colgate. The Blue will travel to New York on Saturday, March 30 for this first match of 2013.

Kick-off is set for 1pm, with the B-side match beginning at 2:30pm.

Congratulations to our five graduating seniors!! All five earned their Blue which they received at the end-of-season banquet in December. Thank you all for your years of hard work and Congratulations!!

Sebastian Damberg-Ott

Andrew Jones

Nat Kelner

Kennedy Mugo

Brian Sirkia

Middlebury Rugby had an outstanding showing at the recent 7′s National Championship in College Station, Texas. After only about 5 hours of practice (total!) to prepare, the MCRC faced off against perennial collegiate power Cal in the first match. The team goal for the first day of the tournament was to win one game, but all knew that it would not likely come against Cal.

The Boys in Blue played absolutely ferocious defense, surprising the Golden Bears by keeping them scoreless for several minutes (an eternity in 7′s!). As the frustration mounted for Cal their disciplined attack finally broke thru with a converted try to make it 7-0. A quick re-start by Cal caught Midd off guard and led to another score before the half. Middlebury struggled to maintain possession throughout as Cal dominated the breakdown, and the relentless pressure led to a 29-0 Cal victory. The MCRC was proud to stay in the match throughout and clearly showed that they can play at this level.

The 2nd match of the day against Arkansas St. also saw a lopsided result in a 38-0 defeat for the Blue. The men from Arkansas were simply electric – hats off to a terrific team. While it’s never fun to lose, the MCRC can feel a little better the next day when Arkansas State goes on the win the National Championship, turning in even more lopsided victories along the way. Again, Middlebury shows that it is not as far away from contending as some nay-sayers predicted.

The 3rd and final match of Day 1 pool play was against North Carolina State. Both teams entered the match 0-2 and both were hungry for that important Day 1 victory. Intense defense was again the centerpiece of Middlebury’s game plan, and NC State’s attack was shut down again and again. This time Middlebury was able to mount some real scoring threats, and finally got on the scoreboard when Captain Dylan “Blackwells” Whitaker ’13 punched thru a gap and took it the distance. Next up was Allan “El Natural” Stafford ’13.5, who, like the finisher he is, finished an beautiful Middlebury attack . NC State scored a converted try in the 2nd half to get within striking distance, but with time running out Adam “Muttonchops” Schreiber ’14 collects a clearing kick and scores the clincher in the corner. The final score is 19-7 Middlebury.

Day 2 sees Middlebury as the 2nd highest seed in the Shield bracket facing off against Colorado State in the quarterfinals. Again, and not surprisingly, Middlebury sets the tone through aggressive defense. Captain Ben “Sturgees” Stasiuk ’13.5 leads from the front, including a memorable sequence where he makes three consecutive tackles. This kind of pressure keeps the Rams on their back foot, and Middlebury capitalizes. Scoring is led by Mr. Stasiuk with 2 tries, the second of which comes right after he signals the sideline to come off. Turning back from the coaches to the action he sees he is free in an over-lap, receives a perfect pass from Laird “Godzilla” Silsby ’15, and turns on the afterburners to beat the defense and touch down for the try. Another try and 2 conversions from Schreiber and Middlebury is again victorious 19-7.

After some predicted The MCRC to go winless, the team is now 2-2 and thru to the Shield semi-finals, and has shown that they belong performing at the highest level in the country.

The semi-final opponent is Davenport, back-to-back D-IAA National Champions in 15′s. The match is incredibly physical and tight defensively. Middlebury takes a 7-0 lead when High School All-American 7′s player Jake Feury ’16 punches through and gets his first score. Feury is fresh off a fine season with the Middlebury football team, and while an outstanding rugby player has not practiced hardly at all in months. He plays in every game in the tournament and is an absolute rock at center. We look forward to many more games with him.

Midd makes a crucial error at the re-start kicking the ball directly to touch and handing a mid-field re-start to Davenport. All-American flyhalf JP Eloff takes the tap and dances his way 50 meters to a try. This is a huge momentum swing and gets Davenport right back in the game. The game clock shows no time remaining with the score tied at 7, but the referee allows the game to go on. Both teams are running out of gas and looking for the brief break before sudden-death overtime when Davenport gets an overload and scores the dagger to Middlebury hearts directly under the posts. Final 14-7 to Davenport.

Davenport goes on to win the Shield, slightly assuaging the sting of the loss, but not very much. Midd knows they had the win within reach, but were not quite able to grab it. A lack of practice time, 7′s conditioning and overall experience were the difference makers here.

The consolation game sees Midd face off against Bowling Green. Both teams are exhausted from 2 days of competition and mounting injuries. For the Blue, Captains Stasiuk and Brian Sirkia ’12.5 are both out. The Davenport game marks the final match for MCRC legend and All-American Sirkia. His leadership on and off the field have set the tone for the past 3 years. True to form, Sirkia doesn’t rest, but runs water to his teammates throughout the Bowling Green match. It sends a strong message to the freshmen to see not 1, but 2 Captains working so hard to support the team when they aren’t even dressing for the game.

Bowling Green jumps out to an early lead, but The MCRC never quits. Feury turns in a cracker and shows he can drop-kick with the best of them. Final is 28-14 Bowling Green, and Middlebury finishes the tournament as Shield semi-finalists with an overall record of 2-4.

The MCRC went to Texas with the goal of showing that it can compete at the highest level. More specifically the team wanted a win in pool play and a play-off win. Lofty goals considering the quality of competition and the utter lack of prep time. Nearly every single other team has played 7′s all fall, compared to a handful of practices for Midd. All goals were met, and, as always, this author is so incredibly proud to be a part of this program. The Men from Midd played with heart, with courage and with convictions and met every challenge head-on. Congratulations to all the members of The MCRC!

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