Rugby strong at annual Beast of the East tournament

The Colby College Rugby Football Club teams headed to Rhode Island this past weekend to participate in The Beast of the East tournament, the largest collegiate rugby tournament in the Western Hemisphere. Both the mens’ and the womens’ teams were fired up for their biggest matches of the spring season, with the men starting off at 7:40 a.m. Saturday with a victory versus the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth (UMD). According to co-captain Jack Sears ’17, both teams played a little bit sloppy to start the match. UMD was able to convert on two penalties and led 6-0 until first year scrum-half Sam Swain ’19 scored towards the end of the first half.

The weather was a critical component of the game as the wind gusts were well above thirty miles an hour during the second half, which impacted both teams as they tried to advance the ball up the field. First-year lock David Ragan ’19 eventually sealed the deal for the Mules after scoring the first try of his rugby career late in the second half, making the final score 12-6.

The momentum from the morning carried into the second match of the day, when the men faced off against NESCAC rival Wesleyan University. Colby cruised by the Cardinals, pushing them around on the way to a 21-0 victory. Strong defense and great leadership from co-captains Sears, who converted all three tries on the day, and Brandon Paquette ’16, who scored two tries against Wesleyan, got the Mules a ticket to the quarterfinals for the Division III Cup. Last year, the Mules fell in a tough final game to the University of Maine at Orono making the team extra eager for another shot at a win this year. 

On Sunday, the team was poised to continue their success against league rival Maine Maritime Academy, having lost to them earlier in the fall season. The ball movement was on point for Colby in this match and the team was able to come away with a 45-12 blowout victory.

Later in the day, the Mules faced their toughest test of the season against the Bowdoin Polar Bears.

The semifinal matchup started out well for the Mules as they dominated possession and set pieces, and although Bowdoin had the edge on the scoreboard at the end of the first half, a try by Pat Deninger ‘17 kept the score close going into the final half of play. The second half was more of the same as the Mules continued to dominate the Polar Bears in terms of possession and set pieces despite losing a player due to a yellow card. The score didn’t change until Colby’s Darien Pipkins ’18 scored a try in the last five minutes of play to tie the game.

As the final whistle blew, the two teams were tied and went into sudden death overtime. Bowdoin eventually came away with the win after a controversial call late in the second half of overtime that awarded the Polar Bears a penalty try.

Although the result was not what the Mules had hoped, co-captain Sears was pleased with the team’s performance: “I was incredibly proud of how the team played and the heart that they exhibited. We have a young team with a very talented freshman class and I’m confident that we’ll be back in the running for the cup next year,” he said.

On the women’s side, the first match kicked off at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday afternoon against Buffalo State. The women played this year in the very competitive Division II, facing off against highly formidable opposition. Unphased, the Mules lost only by a single point in their first game, 20-19. Jess Edlund ’18 carried the forwards, scoring her first try of her rugby career. In the second game, however, the Mules vowed for a win and crushed SUNY – New Paltz 31-7 with tries all around the roster, including two from Hanna Kwasman ’17.

The win put them into the quarterfinals of the cup on Sunday. Unfortunately the women fell to SUNY – Albany, 29-0 the following day. The team used their incredible speed, strength, and size to overcome the tired Mules. Colby continuously attacked Albany’s try line, but couldn’t get over and score in a hard-fought loss.

At the Maine State Tournament in just two weeks, both the men’s and women’s rugby teams have a chance to bring Colby club athletics some glory and take home a state championship. 

Leave a Reply