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Men's Rugby Club Brings Home Third Despite Several Injuries

By Randy Myers
Team Member

The men's Rugby Football Club battled injuries and a lack of numbers to place third out of eight teams at the Montreal Irish International Rugby Classic held over Labor Day weekend.

The team had some big setbacks before leaving Boston. Captain Dave Strocker '83 was injured in a gardening accident and couldn't make the trip. Alternate captain Gavin Braithwaite G injured his head in practice and also did not play, though he did make the trip.

Game one on Saturday pitted the Engineers against St. Foy of Quebec. The Engineers dominated from the opening kickoff and wing forward Tienie Van Schoor scored on a predesigned play from a 5 meter scrum to put the team up 50. St. Foy turned to ball over immediately in their next possession and Gert Muller received a beautiful spin pass from Wiggy Jim Miller and took it over the try line. With that conversion and an ensuing penalty kick, MIT led 150 at halftime.

The Engineers continued to dominate in the second half and scored twice more, the first by a long run from wing Steve Lasher G and the final score by Randy Myers G who received a pass from team president Todd Nightengale '00 and dove over the try line for the score. Tech held off a late rally and won 2710.

Game two put the Engineers up against the Montreal Irish in a rematch of the famous Bermuda tournament of 1996 which MIT won 1310. The home field advantage was evident early as the Irish jumped out to a 140 lead on a couple of sketchy calls. However, the Engineers started their comeback with a beautiful up and under from Jaco Pretorius, who caught his own kick and took it in for the score. A successful conversion and a penalty kick closed to gap to 1410 at the half. "True resiliency manifested itself out there and proved that we can compete with anyone," said forward Fernando Vargas G. The second half started with the Engineers' backs putting on a show. Mario Bracamonds scored after a series of passes. The conversion then put MIT up 1714.

The rest of the second half was played a man down as Nikko Moll G was kicked out of the game and suspended for the rest of the day for retaliation. MIT stayed strong and the game ended with a big hit by Ken Myers '98.

In the final game of the day the Engineers faced the Japan Blue Socks, an all-star team consisting of the 39 best players from the greater Tokyo area. In contrast, the Tech squad were left with only 16 players after an injury to Pretorius. MIT fought hard as James Hopkins G made his first career score from wing. Fernando Vargas connected on a penalty kick with 5 minutes to go as Tech found themselves only down 148. Involved in a ruck Jeremy Levin broke his nose and was forced to leave the match. The Engineers voluntarily played the rest of the game one man short. Despite the disadvantage Tienie Van Schoor scored his second try of the day with two minutes left. With the score, he Engineers were still down 1413. Vargas then connected on a two point conversion which put Tech up 1514. The Blue Socks put on a ferocious drive but were stopped one foot short of a score by James Hopkins G as time expired.

The Engineers finished the first day 30, however, the lack of depth and key injuries caused MIT to lose its semifinal game against St. Lambert Locks 153.