SHAY’S PUB, CAMBRIDGE (HBS RFC Press) – As the fall rugby season nears its end, this past weekend was “gut check” time for the HBS Rugby Club. Practice was intense during the week as the team focused on a crucial match Saturday against league leaders South Shore, followed by hosting the HBS “Old Boys” in a friendly (or so we thought) match the very next day.
Needing victories over the league’s top two teams in the final weeks of the season to clinch a spot in the playoffs, HBS went to the South Shore pitch with fire in their eyes and desire in their hearts. Facing a top rival without the benefit of substitutes, this quickly developed into the hardest-fought match of the season for the HBS side. Playing an aggressive defensive game, Krzysztof “Cristal” Walenczak (OI) and Eric “Flower of Scotland” Miller (Harvard Law) led the forwards, with Julian “Black Rose” Coulter (NG) and Shoney “Uncatchable” Katz (NC) securing the back line. The team was further inspired by the truly gallant effort of Thomas “Unbreakable” Burke (OH), who injured his ribs early in the match but played through the pain fearlessly until the 40th minute of competition to pull ball after ball out of the sky in the lineouts.
As the dust settled at halftime, HBS was leading 3-0 on a goal kick by “Red” Baron Hanson (FAS), but was forced by the referee to take Burke out of the match. Returning to the pitch in the second half, the team would have to finish the game a man down. Undaunted by the odds seemingly stacked against them, HBS fought an even tougher second half, with key play by Santiago “Professor” Kraiselburd (HBS PhD) and a try-saving tackle by Derek “Double D” Mendez (ND). Especially hard hitting were Simon “Killa” Morrish (OK) and the Army-Navy Duo of Tony “Tank” Carango (NA) and Josh “Deep Diving” Hall (NF). The latter most honorably avenged Burke’s injury, proving you can’t step on Harvard and get away with it. Superb sideline coaching from Michael “Precious” Paley (OD) and Claude “Zut Alors” London (OA) were instrumental in coordinating HBS’ lethal man-down defense. Three more goal kicks by Baron Hanson were enough to hold off a late run by South Shore, and when time expired HBS had knocked off top-ranked South Shore by a score of 12-10. Julian Coulter was awarded “Man of the Match” honors as the opponents were left in a state of exhaustion and awe by the superior showing of the HBS Rugby Club.
Never content to rest on their laurels and modifying the meaning of “rubbing elbows with future employers”, HBS was back in action the very next day hosting the HBS “Old Boys”. Not satisfied with an ordinary alumni mixer, the “Old Boys” came to prove that they can still tackle hard and drive strong in the scrum. One of the fiercest tacklers on the “Old Boys” side this year was Joseph Casey, now a general partner with Venrock Associates in Cambridge. In the number eight jersey this weekend, Joseph was one of 35 HBS Rugby Club Alumni representing over 5 decades of MBAs who ventured back to HBS to relive their glory days on the rugby pitch, and perhaps add a few notches as well.
Unfortunately, the “Old Boys” didn’t count on HBS still being fired up from the previous day’s victory. Barry “O’Shea” Horgan (OD) ran brilliant ball down the gullets of the olde men of Harvard, in a 40-5 victory. Mike “Dobbs” Dobrynio (OA) played aggressively while Nam “No Woman No” Kry (NC) scored a try with assists from John “Sampson” Hoffman (OJ), Barry Horgan and Baron Hanson. Breakaway running by Jorge “the Celtic Coke-man” O’Hara (NI) at flyhalf was superb, easily fed by clean ball all day long from Adam “Super” Diamond (OJ) at scrum half. The “Old Boys” lone score came on a try by Dan James with an assist by Soren Oberg. Outstanding play was put in by notable alums Chuck “First Call” Hill (HBS’68), Gene “Judge & Jury” Skowronski, and Jerry “Kettle Cuisine” Shafir (HBS ’84), and Steve “OE” Watson (HBS’77)
HBS Class of 2001 rugby stars Warren Valdmanis, Charles Graham, Chris Gordon, Austin Sharpe and Nick Eaton were on hand to grace the pitch, borrow cleats and buy a few rounds with their new paychecks, but they were no match for the fittest men HBS Rugby has seen in recent years. Last year’s forward captain Warren Valdmanis said to his successor, Sean Gass, “Gassman, from the looks of this team, victory at Duke (International MBA Rugby Championships) this year is eminent.” Austin Sharp, wishing to share in such glory added, “You guys make having a job all the more sickening.”
Up next for HBS Rugby is an away game at Boston (10/27), followed by league playoffs. As always, the club would like to thank its sponsors: Schlumberger and Kidd & Company. If you’re interested in joining the HBS Rugby Club, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.