Rugby keeps playoff hopes alive by crushing Norwich
NORTHFIELD, Vt. -- On a beautiful sunny Saturday, the Dartmouth men's rugby team took the field against perennial rivals Norwich Military Academy with the hopes of avenging last year's disappointing loss to the team. The contest was one that Dartmouth had to win in order to stay in playoff contention and, in a physical match, the Big Green was able to dominate the game and cement a victory, 45-15.
Throughout the match, the two teams' strategies differed greatly. Norwich primarily relied on their large forwards to repeatedly run the ball from ruck to ruck. The Big Green, on the other hand, found it more effective to use its speedy backs to get the ball around the field.
The match began with trouble, as Dartmouth flyhalf Jesse Blom '06 tore his MCL in the first minute. Young Canadian Chris Chan '07 stepped up and replaced him for the entirety of the match.
Ten minutes later, at the end of a Dartmouth drive, Chan dished the ball to outside center and co-captain Brad Hogate '05, who made a 20-meter dash in heavy traffic to score. Wing Andrew Caspary '06 converted the kick to give Dartmouth an early 7-0 lead.
Dartmouth quickly regained the ball, and dominated possession as Norwich received a string of penalties in the breakdown. A Norwich penalty on the team's own five meter line proved to be costly when Captain Erik Richardson '05 took advantage by tapping the ball and diving into the try zone.
Though Dartmouth had established an early 12-0 lead, the team's mistakes put Norwich on the scoreboard. In the 16th minute, a bad pass from Chan to inside center Dan Correa '05, whose position as author of rugby articles allows him to blame mistakes on others, ended up in the hands of a charging Norwich center who reached the try zone unscathed.
Dartmouth responded immediately when a Norwich kick gave Caspary the opportunity to initiate a counterattack. After a protracted maul by the Dartmouth forwards, the backs swung the ball out wide to a sprinting Hogate, who proudly scored his second try of the day to put Dartmouth up 19-5.
With the minutes of the half dwindling, prop Joe Boswell '06 took it upon himself to add two tries to the scoreboard. The first came off of a ruck on the Norwich five-meter line, from which he deftly extracted the ball before tiptoeing into the try zone. The second try was a thundering ten meter run in traffic that was initiated by a Dartmouth lineout.
Perhaps overly confident in its 33-5 lead at halftime, Dartmouth lacked some intensity in the second half. Norwich also stepped up its game, dominating territory throughout the half and keeping the ball tight amongst its forwards. Their efforts paid off in the 52nd minute with a try resulting from a maul deep in Dartmouth territory. Dartmouth was not without success in the second half, as the team found the try zone twice. The first came off of a penalty at half field that allowed Richardson to pick up the ball and find Correa on his outside, who faked a pass and scored it himself. In the final minute of the game, Dartmouth struck again when the team mauled the ball off of a lineout on the Norwich five-meter line. Flanker Henry Tarmy '06 picked the ball up and touched it down in the try zone to win the girl and make the final score 45-15.
Having improved its season record to 2-2 with a solid victory over Norwich, the Big Green looks to the weekend ahead, when it takes on the undefeated UConn team at home.
Dan Correa is a member of the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club.