Men’s rugby falls in both playoff games, finishes fourth in New England

On Saturday the men’s rugby team traveled down to Connecticut to compete in the New England playoff tournament for a chance to advance to the national bracket. The four team tournament consisted of Colby, Tufts, Babson, and division rival University of Maine at Orono. The Mules gained entry into the tournament after finishing second in the northern division. Tufts finished first in the southern division and the two met in the first game on Saturday.

Colby’s fast-paced  offense and dominating scrum carried them through a back-and-forth first half against Tufts. Both teams were able to get the ball deep into opposing territory and score. Colby was pinned inside their own half a few times and unfortunately made some mistakes that led to two Tufts tries. The Mules also struggled with tackling for a portion of the first half. James Lindberg ’17 said that Tufts, “They had really big forwards who ran the ball well so the tackling was tough,” he said. “Our back line was much stronger than theirs and their wings were really weak. We needed to get the ball to our backs and they were kind of beating us up on the inside. We dominated the scrum, but when it came down to it a lot of little mistakes cost us the game.”

In the second half Colby came out with momentum. The whole team seemed to step up and play well after a shaky start to the match. The game was close throughout and eventually came down to the final few possessions.

The Mules were down 22-15 late in the game when Eric Aliamestianu ’19 broke free for a beautiful run that would have resulted in tying the score, conversion notwithstanding, only to be disappointingly called back for a knock-on. This setback shifted the momentum of the game in Tufts’ favor and the Jumbos ended up taking the win 22-15.

After the close loss on Saturday, the Mules looked to a consulation match for third place against Babson on Sunday. Some of the starters sat for the first half, giving younger players a chance to play in a game against a good team. The Mules struggled to find a rhythm as the scrum that fought hard against Tufts lost steam against Babson.

Lineouts also plagued the team as Colby struggled to maintain possession even on their own lineouts. Lindberg said of the match against Babson, “It was really our first game of the season where our future wasn’t necessarily on the line. Josh Brown [’18] and Jay Moore [’18] had the game of their lives. Other guys on the squad also played well. We put some of our starters back in in the second half but the game was kind of lost for us by then, but we fought back and made the game closer by the end. It was really great to see the future of Colby rugby play in this game and I think it really bodes well for the spring. It was a great team match.”

Colby fell to Babson 31-20. The end of the tournament concluded a successful season for the Mules who kicked the fall off by beating archrival Bowdoin before rattling off wins against Maine Maritime Academy, University of Maine at Orono, and the University of New England. This season the Mules enjoyed a significant improvement from last year when the team only won one game. Colby Rugby finished the fall strong and looks forward to an exciting string of tournaments this spring.

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