Dartmouth Rugby Maintains Perfect Record in Title Run

Sunday was a memorable day in Dartmouth Rugby history, as The Big Green took home the title in the second edition of the USA Sevens College Rugby Championship at PPL Park in Philadelphia. The team made sure to clinch the title in style, taking advantage of several mistakes from their opponent, Army, and cruising to a 32-10 victory in front of a national TV audience on NBC. The win closed out a perfect tournament for the team.

Things didn’t look so rosy for The Big Green earlier in the day however, as they faced a tough match up from their College Premier Division rivals Penn State. Dartmouth made the first strike in the game, successfully contesting the ruck on the first tackle of the game. From there, the ball was moved to Tanner Scott ’11 who took it the remaining 10 meters for the score, giving Dartmouth a 7-0 lead. Penn State would answer right back though, scoring a quick try to even things up. The game picked up in intensity from there, as both teams utilized an extremely physical style of play, keeping the score deadlocked well into the second half. However, Chris Downer’10 was able to eventually make a good play off a scrum and then pass it to Scott, who gave The Big Green all the points they would need for a 12-7 win.

From there, Dartmouth faced the Cinderella team of the tournament, Central Washington, in the semifinals. The two teams traded scores early on, as the Wildcats responded to a try from Nick Downer ’10 with one of their own. Unlike the Big Green though, they were able to make their conversion, giving them a 7-5 lead. Dartmouth would dominate the action for the rest of the game though, scoring three unanswered tries to take control. Nick Downer would open the onslaught, breaking through the line for a try to give the Big Green a 12-7 advantage. Scott ’11 would take things from there, breaking several tackles to increase the lead to 17-7 just before halftime. He would tack on another in the 2nd half, covering more than half the field and making more than a few Wildcat defenders look silly for the score. With the conversion Dartmouth went up 24-7, and they would hold on for the 24-12 win to advance to the final. 

It was there that they met their perennial rival in 15s, the Black Knights of Army. Again, the Big Green would trade early scores. After a Chris Downer try on the left side, Army caused a break down in Dartmouth’s defensive line to equalize the score at 5 all. The Black Knights would not be able to maintain their high level of play however, committing several key mistakes that The Big Green quickly capitalized on. First among them was a penalty on the 5 meter line. Wasting no time, Dartmouth swiftly moved the ball down the line until Nate Brakeley ‘12 worked his way through two defenders to get his first try of the tournament and put the team up 10-5. Next up for Army would be a knock-on in almost the same position on the field, an error which captain Paul Jarvis ’12 turned into another try to make the score 17-5 after the conversion. Chris Downer would add another to his tally for the tournament before halftime, taking a pass from Will Lehmann ’12 to put the Big Green up 22-5 before the break. Army would try to mount a comeback in 2nd half, scoring a minute into play. But this was to be Dartmouth’s day. Following a scrum, Jarvis found himself with numbers on the left, eventually moving the ball to Nick Downer who would get the score. With the score now 22-5, Dartmouth appeared to have the game well in hand, but Muhammed Abdul-Shakoor ’10 decided to increase the pain for the Black Knights anyway. Taking the ball on the left side, he avoided several defenders and managed to keep his balance right on the edge of the touchline before he somersaulted into the zone to put an exclamation point on the weekend. The final score for the game was 32-10.

Unfortunately for several of players who went to Philadelphia, they still have finals and papers to finish when they get back to campus. But they surely won’t mind the interruption to their finals period schedules after taking part in a moment none of them, and no supporters of the Big Green, will ever forget. With the 7s season now done, Dartmouth Rugby will enjoy a well-deserved break for the summer before getting back together in late August to begin preparations for the fall 15s season.

Jeffrey Hopkins