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MIT Rugby Club Comes Back In Second Half to Beat Harvard

By Steven Murray
Team Member

Last Tuesday saw the renewal of an oft-heated rivalry between the MIT rugby club and the Harvard University Business School rugby club.

MIT has dominated the twice-yearly matchup in recent years, winning the last three tests. It is always a hard fought game however, and both sides were excited and ready to play.

The early play favored HBS as MIT was constantly called offsides in their own territory. This lead to two converted penalty kicks to give the business school a 60 lead in the beginning of the match.

The first signs of ill-will surfaced early in the first half as a Harvard player came in late and leveled standoff Jaco Pretorious after he had kicked the ball cleanly away. Pretorious played the rest of the game, only learning later that the late hit had broken three of his ribs. "I'm obviously upset that they were coming after me late, but I'm certainly not going to whine about it,"Pretorious said. "Sometimes broken ribs are a part of the game."

MIT had scoring chances in the first half, but neither Pretorious nor wing Steven Murray G could convert penalty kick opportunities. Harvard was able to put in a try in the latter moments of the first half to establish a halftime lead of 110.

Beavers come back in second half

As the half turned, so did the wind, and with it, the fortunes of the Rucking Beavers. Early in the second half, captain Fernando Vargas G put a long kick through to give the Beavers their first points and a needed lift. "I perceived that as the genuine inflection point in the game," Vargas said.

"The first-half play was bordering on lugubrious, but things picked up and rose monotonically from there," Vargas said.

With the wind at the Beavers' backs, their kicking game could come to full fruition, and the backs started to get more ball. The first try came as veteran scrum-half Chevy Vithiananthan '87 took the ball around the weak side of the scrum.

Going away from the bulk of his backs, Vithiananthan created an overload, and threw an easy pitch to the wing for the try. The try was converted by Pretorious, back on the field after an expulsion for fighting, to bring MIT within two points, 911.

Things started to roll for the Beavers after that, with Pretorious banging through two more kicks to give MIT a 1511 lead. With MIT pushing hard at the Harvard goal, the play finished off with a long, tight spin pass from new inside center Randy Myers all the way out to the left wing, who deftly avoided tacklers and placed the ball down in front of the Harvard goal to close out the match.

"Honestly, they just couldn't play with us in the forwards,"said Chris Sununu '98. "We pushed them all over the field on scrums, and I look forward to doing it again."