1989: Harvard Ruggers Topple Brown to Win Ivy League Championship

The Harvard men's rugby club was celebrating even more than usual after this weekend's games. The Crimson (8-0) defeated Brown yesterday, 12-9, in the finals in Providence, R.I., to win the Ivy League championships for the first time since 1984, the year the squad won the national title.

Published by MIA KANG on Monday, April 10, 1989 in the Harvard Crimson. "It's nice to bring the Ivy League title back to Harvard where it belongs," said senior Bruce Miller, president of the Harvard rugby club. In Saturday's first-round 18-10 victory over Princeton, Harvard held the Tigers scoreless in the first half. The squad took a 15-0 advantage into halftime with tries from Mark Sagarin and Co-Captain Scott Hilinski and a drop kick from senior Chris Liles. The Tigers came roaring back in the second half, but Harvard regained the momentum in the last 15 minutes of the contest after a penalty kick from Liles. "We got lazy and rested on our lead [in the second period]," Co-Captain Jon Greenberg admitted. Null Elis The Crimson registered a shutout in its second game, defeating Yale, which had received a bye in the first round, 10-0. The first half was a defensive contest as the two squads battled through a scoreless half, but Harvard took control of the game in the second half as Greenberg scored a try to give the Crimson a 4-0 advantage. Liles added two penalty kicks to close out the scoring. "The Yale game was probably the toughest one of the tournament for us," Greenberg said. "We had already played a game so we were really tired, while they were fresh. That was an added obstacle." Despite controlling yesterday's championship game from the onset, Harvard quickly fell behind, 6-0, on two Brown penalty kicks. But Liles scored a penalty kick just before the end of the first half to cut the deficit to 6-3. Playing more aggressively in the second half, the Crimson gained the lead early when Hilinski scored a try. Liles' successful conversion increased the lead to three points, 9-6. The Bruins tied the score with a penalty kick off a questionable barging call with 20 minutes left in the game, but Harvard maintained its attack, keeping the ball in the Brown end for most of the remainder of the game. With 10 minutes left in the game Liles converted a penalty kick for the winning margin. The Crimson played without Coach Martyn Kingston, who was attending a national rugby organizational meeting. Fortunately, trainer Jimmy O'Toole accompanied the team this weekend. Pep Talk "He gave us a really inspiring pep talk at halftime," Greenberg said. "He told us we had 35 minutes to win an Ivy championship, which we'd remember for the rest of our lives. We really came out strongly in the second half." "One of the key reasons that we won is that we had a lot of depth," Greenberg said. "Although we had a lot of injuries, we had some confident people who could come in. We had a lot of young players--there were three freshmen on the field at the end of the Brown game." Five Harvard players were named to the All-Ivy team: Greenberg at prop, senior James Keller at lock, Liles at fly-half, senior Scott Tierney at center, and Hilinski at wing.

Read the story in the Harvard Crimson