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Two Wins Give Men's Rugby Division Championship

Jiri Schindler--The Tech
Jeff Bucci of the rugby team holds firmly onto the ball after receiving a back pass from his teammate. MIT beat the Boston Gentlemen rugby team 20-0 in Saturday's game at Briggs Field.

By Chris Sununu
Team Member

The men's rugby Rucking Beavers clinched the second consecutive Social Division Championship this week with back-to-back wins against Western Ontario Business School (297) and the Boston Gentlemen (255).

On Friday, MIT faced off against the Western Ontario Business School. Once a year, the Ontario team ventures down to New England for a friendly tour of Boston. Traditionally, the team plays two matches during their week, one against Harvard University and the other against MIT.

This year went well for the Canadians as they defeated Harvard for the first time and came into the MIT match on a roll.

The first half went well for the MIT squad as the forward pack held the larger Ontario team from advancing. The rucking of MIT's pack provided clean ball to the back line and set up two quick tries by Hue Price G and Chris Kantner '97.

To counter the quick play of MIT, W. Ontario began mixing up their play calls to slow the pace of the game. Twice they stalled MIT by mixing up their numbers in the line outs and using long kicks to draw the MIT backs away from the ball.

"We dominated during the first half, but they were smart in engineering their plays around us," said Steve Murray G.

MIT wised up in the second half and did not allow W. Ontario to play around them as before. Toshiyuki Hino G, celebrating the birth of his son the day before, drove in two consecutive tries from the scrum-half position including a beautiful 40-meter run.

W. Ontario, tired from MIT's quick back line, was only able to counter with one try of their own resulting in a 297 victory.

"These guys are the most exciting team we play all season. Win or lose, we always have a good time," said team captain Jeff Bucci. "Both teams played clean and hard which always makes great rugby."

The celebration was short lived for MIT since they had to come out the next day to face the Boston Gentlemen. The team needed a win to secure their undefeated season and the division title.

The Boston Gents, known for their rough play, came out fierce and drove the ball down to the MIT five-meter line within minutes. It took a strong scrum and good kicking to protect their goal line, but MIT punched back and stopped the Gents' surge.

The team took advantage of their fitness and played the ball out to the backs in the first half which set up scores by Dan McCarthy G and Jeremy Levin G. These scores, along with two spectacular penalty kicks by Steve Murray G gave MIT a commanding 180 lead by the half.

The Boston Gents were not done by far though, as they made half-time substitutions and added 200 pounds. to their forward pack to stop MIT. This tactic proved to be the right choice for the Gents as they drove in a try to move the score to 185.

MIT did not panic as they used long passes and deep kicks to tire out their opponents. Great defense by McCarthy and Chen also saved points for the team as they scored once more and held on for a 255 victory and the division championship.

"We were concerned by their immense size at halftime, but we used the right strategies to maintain possession," said Fernando Vargas G. "Holding the ball and finding your opponents weaknesses is what this game is all about."

As division champs, MIT will venture to Newport, R.I., to play in the New England tournament along with the Boston Dinosaurs.

"With a little luck, they'll bring back that trophy, too," said coach Stephen Willhelm.