Big Green Head South
Dartmouth Rugby began its official spring tour Wednesday with a morning practice hosted by the Little Rock Rugby Club in Little Rock, Arkansas, with lunch provided by LRRC member and former Dartmouth Rugby captain Brad Hogate ‘05. The session was the first of the tour after a winter term of indoor trainings that witnessed a majority of last fall's Big Green starting XV off campus either studying abroad or completing internships.
Dartmouth Touring Side to Play Seven Matches in Ten Days
"Dartmouth's unique quarter system (D‐plan) is a great opportunity for our sophomore and junior students to study overseas or be challenged by work internships during winter term," said Dartmouth Head Coach Alex Magleby ’00. With nearly two‐thirds of its students participating in Foreign Study abroad programs, Dartmouth ranks first in the Ivy League and remains the leader in international opportunities in the Ancient Eight. Dartmouth Rugby had team members in Australia, England, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Thailand this winter. Speaking of the opportunities afforded to Dartmouth students because of the flexibility of the D‐plan, Magleby added, "[Senior Lock Taylor Stevenson ‘10] was even able to go back to his hometown [in Central Minnesota] to campaign for and win the endorsement for his district's state senate seat." "With many of our fall season starters and leaders off this past term, it was a good opportunity for the young guys to step into leadership roles and get quality reps."
The Dartmouth squad looked to quickly get back together and gel into the adaptable and fast‐paced squad from the fall campaign as they took on #5 Arkansas State Saturday, March 18th. "Arkansas State will be a great test," said Dartmouth co‐captain Mike DiBenedetto ’10 before the match. "From our experience with them in the 2008 nationals, we know they are a well coached, fasted, experienced team. We are looking forward to this quality challenge against one of the best teams in the country."
Dartmouth jumped out to an early lead, playing Arkansas State close throughout the first half, but were unable to keep up with Red Wolves in a 17‐49 loss. "Dartmouth exploited us in the first half," said Arkansas State Head Coach Matt Huckaby. State relied on the play of their two talented All‐American centers to open up scoring opportunities, explained former All‐American and US Eagle Huckaby. "I was impressed with Dartmouth's fitness and defensive play. We are used to getting clean ball in space, but today it was like we were facing a sea of green." Dartmouth was able to capitalize on its organized defense early. Sophomore Derek Fish ‘12 intercepted an Arkansas State pass, offloading from the deck to Chris Downer ’11 who ran in the try from 60 meters out, giving the Big Green an early 7‐0 lead after a successful conversion from Tommy Brothers ’11. Arkansas State answered with the next 15 points of the match, but a try from Will Lehmann ’12 cut the lead to 12‐15 late in the first half. With the clock winding down in the first half and the ball deep in Dartmouth's territory, Arkansas State All‐American and captain Nardus Wessels was able to take a lineout into the five meter channel and extend the Red Wolves lead to 20‐12 at the whistle. "We put in a new line out scheme," explained Huckaby, "It let us down some times, but it worked out well for us other times."
The lead in the second half went to Arkansas State, who took advantage of a strong wind and a successful kicking strategy to pin Dartmouth inside their own 22‐meter for much of the half. State put 22 points on the board with this territorial pressure before Tommy Brothers was able to run in a try off a counter attack opportunity to put the score at 17‐42. Arkansas State would score one more time before the end of play.
"Dartmouth was great competition… very sportsmanlike and great to play against," said Wessels. "There is not a lot of competition [for us] in the south… [this match] provided us with some good building blocks." Lehmann, the eventual man of the match for Dartmouth, remarked that it was, "fantastic for Dartmouth to have a chance to play a quality side like Arkansas State to start our spring development." Lehmann continued, "I was impressed to see us playing hard for 80 minutes. The effort was there and that was exciting." Dartmouth Captain Matt Dinger ’10 said of Arkansas State, "It was a tough match, we didn’t meet our expectations in the set‐pieces and that along with their skilled kicking put us under quite of bit of possession and territorial pressure." Dinger explained that Arkansas State was a physical team that played clean, hard rugby and highlighted some areas Dartmouth must work on going forward in its spring campaign. " It was great to start our trip against a quality program like ASU."
The Big Green's two matches against Sam Houston State on March 20th were cancelled due to heavy rain and lightning. Captain Dinger noted, "Sam Houston were good hosts, and it was unfortunate for all that the matches were cancelled. We are looking forward to a couple of days of quality trainings before taking on the Austin Blacks." The 1st XV will take on the Austin Blacks on Tuesday, March 23rd at 6:30pm at Burr Field, and then will play back‐to‐ back matches, on the 26th with 1st and 2nd XV matches at the University of Texas, at 7:00pm and 8:30pm, respectively.
The 1st XV will finish the trip Saturday at 2:00 pm against the Dallas Harlequins. "It's a challenging and exciting schedule full of opportunities to test ourselves," said Magleby. "We have been very well supported by Dartmouth alumni and our opponents to date." "Tour is a great team‐building experience after a winter with few sophomores and juniors on campus," explained DiBenedetto. "It is a good way to start off the spring campaign." Co‐captain elect Nick Downer ’11 explained that the level of competition and the region's climate made a tour to the south a logical choice. "We wanted to test ourselves against other strong programs. After a winter in Hanover, we were hoping to play in a warmer area and saw going to the south as a great opportunity to play against some strong competition." Downer continued, "We are bringing a lot of younger guys on tour this year, so it will be a great experience [for them] and a chance to develop some depth going forward." Downer expressed his excitement for tour and confidence in its success. "Everyone is excited to get into the swing of things." Magleby echoed his appreciation for the support given to the team, saying, "We have been looking forward to representing Dartmouth in Little Rock, Jonesboro, Huntsville, Austin, and Dallas.
Contact: Taylor Stevenson, Press Secretary, Dartmouth Rugby
Email: taylor [dot] stevensondartmouth [dot] edu