HBS Rugby continues their winning form against the fearsome opposition of local club side Maccabi RFC.
After a wet and dark Thursday in Cambridge, the skies cleared for HBS RFC’s first home game of the season: Maccabi RFC. With the memory of losing to Wharton in the final at Hogfest two weeks earlier, the HBS team were eager to take to the field.
Maccabi was fired up, though, and dominated the opening 15 minutes of the game. Any ball that HBS took was quickly turned over under a relentless assault by the Maccabi pack. Only a steadfast defense from every man held them off. Strong tackles from 10 Aurélien “Flair” Bellucci and 12 Jack “Stonewall” Gannon prevented Maccabi’s enormous centers from breaking through. George “Arms” Ruizcalderon (playing in the back row and serving as a part-time hooker) and David “Hitman” Chataway were relentlessly outmuscling forwards twice their size. A powerful Maccabi forward charge from the 5-meter line was only just held up by HBS in the try area. After his ferocious tackling, “Arms” Ruizcalderon needed some brief medical attention and assistance with his contact lenses.
Flair 10 Aurélien kicked up to halfway, and the forwards started to put on the pressure. Powerhouse “Little” Jon Moll combined with “Newcomer” Bart Lubberts to push towards the Maccabi’s 22. Relishing the clean ball, standout scrum-half “Big” Jon Furman began spinning the ball out wide to the backs, who started probing holes in the Maccabi defence. Newcomers Sam “Legs” Ford and Josiah “No Prisoners” Senu made their presence felt with darting runs around Maccabi defenders. Soon HBS was camped on the Maccabi 5-meter line and probing for a try with every phase. Finally, “Little” Jon took a quick ball and powered through five Maccabi defenders for the first score, with 10 Aurélien converting.
Maccabi came back strong off the restart, but HBS’s confidence was growing and starting to look dangerous. With the game moving at a rapid pace between the halves, Maccabi’s superior bench started to dominate the flagging HBS pack. Following some driving runs, Maccabi finally ran in a try just before the end of the half.
The HBS team was bolstered at halftime with the arrival of HBS try-scoring talisman 12 Sayf “The Sword” Al-Omaishi. Off the restart, Andrew “Barnhouse” Stephenson and Luis “Tackle Monster” Ramos made powerful runs, breaking through the Maccabi ranks and providing a quick ball for Sayf to start cutting through the Maccabi backs. A cheeky offload from flair 10 Aurélien allowed Sayf to cut through the defence for his second try of the night.
Coming back from the restart, Maccabi pushed deep with its forwards to score another try. The boys in black showed their displeasure with a fearsome display of forwards power. “Arms” Ruizcalderon and “Hitman” Chataway were now on the offense charging into the Maccabi half. Paulie “Go-Go-Gadget-Arm” Landrin secured a line out on Maccabi’s 22, “Big” Jon spun it wide, and Sayf again cut through the defence. A last-ditch Maccabi tackle brought Sayf 10 meters from the line, but Andrew “Barnhouse” Stephenson was ready and took a beautiful offload, running in his first HBS try.
Entering the final 20 minutes of the game, Maccabi’s much larger bench started to weigh on the HBS team. Despite heroic defense from the boys in black, Maccabi found holes in a flagging defence to score a try on the right wing. From the restart, Maccabi secured the ball and began pushing towards the HBS try line. The flagging HBS defense opened up a gap the length of the Spangler lunch queue at midday—a certain try for Maccabi. Out of nowhere, Tom “Total Pain” Payne flew into the Maccabi ball carrier and ripped the ball right out of his hands (I’m pretty sure the poor guy still doesn’t know what happened). “Big” Jon spun a beautiful pass to “Little” Jon. Doing what he does best, “Little” Jon proceeded to flatten three Maccabi players in quick succession before offloading to “Stonewall” Gannon.
With a flurry of sidesteps and cheeky offloads from several HBS players, the ball was suddenly in Sayf’s hands on the Maccabi 22. Sayf “walked in” his second try of the night, flattening two players in the process, to finish an excellent team try. The HBS team rejoiced in a hard fought victory with the final scoreline 26-22 to HBS.
Chris Hartnoll (MBA ’20), is Co-President of the Rugby Club. Despite his coming from the country that invented English, his teammates struggle to understand him most of the time. A (confused) native Singaporean, he helps define the culture of the club: things like political correctness, gentlemanly behaviour, and copious use of the salutation “mate.”
Alex Harstrick (MBA ’20), is CFO of the Rugby Club. Alex hails from California and is passionate about America, freedom, and his cat Smokey. He never lets his lack of understanding of the rules of rugby get in the way of his playing the game.