Dartmouth Takes Opener Against Yale

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The Big Green took the field for the first time in league play on Saturday, September 16th, under a hot Indian summer afternoon in front of a sizeable crowd at the Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse. The boys kicked off their 2006 campaign against a Yale side that has seen vast improvements since last year's 91-0 defeat at the ends of a seasoned Dartmouth squad during the NERFU playoffs. With a year of D1 competition under their belts and the addition of a few experienced players from overseas the Yale Bulldogs were ready to give a hard-fought contest to a Dartmouth squad that had seen the departure of 24 seniors, including12 1st XV starters.

The improved Yale team came out hard in the opening minutes, running off the rucks with success and marching the ball down into Dartmouth territory with confidence and composure. The Dartmouth defense, initially surprised by the surgical execution of the Yale Bulldogs buckled early allowing a try within the beginning five minutes to give Yale the lead 5-0. Determined to get the points back, the Dartmouth attack got careless as they pushed across the midline and a nimble Yale defender intercepted a pass running it back for a second early try, before the conversion put the Bulldogs ahead 12-0.

With the initial shock wearing off, the boys in Green began to string some phases together swinging the ball back and forth across the field, off-loading the ball in contact and keeping the Yale defenses tracking backwards.

The first Dartmouth points were posted by '07 winger Chris Chan as he sliced a hole in the Yale line touching it between the posts making '09 Jeff Kolovson's conversion attempt all but certain. With the score 12-7, the Big Green began to see their opportunities opening up, and looked to keep the pressure on as the half continued. Great hands in the forwards on the wide side of the field opened the gate for bounding 8-man Josh Weinberg '07 to make an impressive escape from some tacklers, somersaulting into the north side of the try-zone to tie the score at 12. The boys in Green did it again only minutes later as hooker Will Forster '09, and Prop JR Williams '08, dished it back and forth down the sideline before Williams found a streaking Mike Markelz '07 who touched it down with a flourish, putting the Green up 17-12 as the half drew to a close.

However, the 17-0 run came to an abrupt halt as Yale came out firing in the second half, recycling possession with quickness and precision setting up a try in the corner to tie the match at 17. At that point both teams knew they would be in a dogfight to the finish and hunkered down into a bruising defensive contest for the next 20 minutes, with each side visibly weakened by the hot September sun. It was then that Co-Captain Aziz Sayigh '07, took matters into his own hands, skillfully eluding defenders and bringing the stiff-arm as he is known to do, finding the try line to put Dartmouth back ahead 22-17. The score would remain as Yale tried again and again to crack the tired Dartmouth defense as the game drew to a close, before Chan struck again cutting through the backline to give Dartmouth their final score of the game. '08 Nick Ortiz nailed the last conversion attempt, and the final mark stood at 29-17.

The game showed once again that this year's squad plays with a great deal of heart and is eager to develop experience and confidence among it's young starting contributors. More strong signs of development were apparent as the Second XV also took the field crushing the Yale B's with a resounding 47-5 victory.

The team looks forward to an intense week of preparation before taking on a very strong Boston College side in league play; a match that could stand to have very strong implications on Dartmouth's playoff hopes this season. We would like to encourage any alumni or friends who will be in the Boston area to come out and support the DRFC at this test. Details, location, and times will be posted on our website shortly.

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