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Rugby Tourney Raises Money for Cancer Research

By Steven J. Murray
TEAM MEMBER

Under brilliant skies, the Beacon Hill Dinosaurs rugby club won the closest contest in the history of the Jim Culliton tournament as donations and a matching grant from BBN raised $2,000 for the American Cancer society. This tournament, started in 1997, is played annually in memory of Jim Culliton, the former MIT director of finance who was a player on and great supporter of the rugby club. In a great loss to the rugby club and the MIT community, Jim died of cancer in 1996.

The tournament featured six teams, including the MIT A side and an MIT alumni side that comes together each year for the tournament. The A side, struggling this season after the loss of several starters, started with a 10-0 loss to an athletic side from Qinnipac College. Though the score turned out against the home side, the tough defense in the face of a continued attack from a strong side was a good sign for the struggling club.

The alumni side started off with a strong performance against a Seacost side from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that set up a decisive match with Beacon Hill, with the winners advancing to the final. The Old Boys started strong with an unconverted try to go up 5-0. Beacon Hill converted a penalty, and then put a converted try through in the second half to go up 10-5. The match was spirited with several altercations breaking out in the middle of the match.

While regretting the outbreak of unpleasantries, Old Boy forward Brett Masters said, “You’ve got to hold your ground out there -- if they come out swinging, you can’t come back shoving.” After having a player forcibly removed from the match by his wife, the Old Boys came back with a try in the closing minutes to tie the score at 10 apiece. Unfortunately for the MIT alums, Beacon Hill fullback Marc Ginness hit a drop-kick from near the halfway line to put Beacon Hill up for good 13-10.

The MIT A side fared better in its second game, handily beating Babson and qualifying for the third place match against Seacoast. The scoring was opened up as inside center Attila Lengyel G took the ball in off the left side for a try in the first half. The defense remained strong the entire game as forwards John Shen ’02 and Dionysio Siegel H G shut down the loose play around the scrum and the back line was applying consistent pressure. Seacaost was able to score two tries in the match, but never converted. MIT won on a converted try by James Partridge.

Beacon Hill pulls out the final

The final proved one for the ages as Quinnipac and Beacon Hill battled for 60 minutes to a 0-0 tie. Qinnipac had constant control of the ball and were always threatening, but Beacon Hill’s defense was solid and the Dinosaurs refused to let the younger team past the try-line.

With three penalties called near the posts in the second half, Qinnipac never elected to kick for points, always attempting to punch it in for the try. Alas, the whistle blew for full time, and with the tournament tiebreaker of tries scored also matched at 4 apiece, the tournament came down to a sudden death kicking match.

Giving a notion as to why they had not elected to kick before, the Quinnipac kicker hooked the first kick to the right, and Beacon Hill’s fullback put the tournament in the bag by slotting the next kick. Questioned about the win against the athletic young side, Dinosaur fullback Ginness simply said, “I’m glad we don’t have to do that again.”

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the tournament trophy was presented to Beacon Hill, and all involved praised the quality of play, and were pleased to have raised so much for a good cause.