New Blue Rugby Hit Bumpy Road, but Finishes Strong
October 24, 2007
New Blue Rugby Football Club has made great strides within the past month of the season. New Blue went from being a virtually unknown team in NERFU Division III, to a top competitor in the Cup Playoffs. Although their rise to the top seems natural, the road to success was anything but.
Fresh off a victory against CCSU, New Blue continued their wining ways against Southern Connecticut State University. “The Battle for New Haven” plaque was at stake for the first time in both team’s history. The plaque has become part of the cross town rivalry as New Blue and SCSU were both founded through the New Haven Men’s Club. Sophomore Rory Smith, recently off the injured reserve list, lived up to the hype of great speed and athleticism. Taking over the game when the ball was in his hands, Smith had three 30-yard runs all resulting in points. Smith set up Junior Ryan Brady for a pick-and-go inside the 22-meter line to give New Blue the early 7-0 advantage. Then on the ensuing kickoff New Blue’s pack demonstrated great rucking abilities lead by Seniors Brian Frank and Kyle Dandrow which set up kicker John McHugh for his first of three converted field goals. With an early 12-0 lead, New Blue looked to put out SCSU early in the second half, but failed to convert deep inside enemy territory. SCSU got on the board converting a field goal of their own late in the second half, but that would not be enough. Senior Captain’s Jesse Ferraro and Dave Motisi set up Rory Smith for his break out run to finish SCSU for good, final 19-3.
After getting off to a great 2-0 start, New Blue would have a gut check as they lost their next two games to Trinity College and Wesleyan University, 33-12 and 20-16 respectively. Trinity College had all the breaks on the 95 degree October day according to Captain Gerald Loehr. “We played hard the first half, we played with them, it was a 9-7 ball-game at the end of the first half, and then we came out flat and couldn’t put anything together offensively.”
Wesleyan University would be a different story. Playing on a Thursday Night, this game had all the makings for a great battle; both teams were high in playoff contention and looking to prove their worth. New Blue would strike first as Loehr dove into the try zone early in the first half. But Wesleyan would go on the offensive on the ensuing kickoff, as 8-man Ben Nissum scored off a scrum deep inside New Blue territory. The first half was a back and forth game with little advantage by both offenses, until injuries halted the game. Two great players, flanker Anthony D’Eramo and Brian Frank would suffer injuries, a torn ACL and a broken Tibia respectively. With two top players out, reserves Sheldon Dobson and Greg Watcher stepped in without missing a beat. Watcher would score early in the second half to put New Blue up 16-3, while Dobson used his size to control “rucks” and “malls” But that would be the last time New Blue held the lead as Wesleyan would go onto score 17 points and win the game 20-16.
The Ruggers had their backs to the wall going into the last game of the season 2-2 and looking to make the Cup Playoffs. Needing help and having to win by more than 30 points to qualify for the Championship side of the Playoffs, New Blue responded by scoring double the amount needed; 68. Gerald Loehr, Ryan Brady, Rory Smith, Dave Motisi, Sean Meehan, Lincoln DeMoura, Andrew Gau, again Gerald Loehr and Lincoln DeMoura, followed by the kicking of John McHugh led to the overwhelming victory. Everything clicked on the Sunday game, Captain Jesse Ferraro added, “If this was going to be our last home game, I wanted to leave it all on the field, and we did.”
This weekend New Blue plays Plymouth State University in New Hampshire in the first round of the NERFU Playoffs. The #4/5 match up should be interesting this coming Saturday as the winner advances to the Division III Final Four. Coach Ben Boutaugh said, “Win or go home, it’s that simple.” and New Blue players agree, going home is not an option.