By Christopher Cohen, Sports Editor
On Saturday, March 25 the UMass Dartmouth Rugby men’s team hosted a tournament on their home turf on the North Dartmouth campus.
Amongst the invitees were the rugby clubs from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, The University of Western New England, and Salve Regina.
Opening the day senior forward Pat Briggs had this to say, “The weather is looking scrumptious today. We’re excited about the temperature, and hoping the weather holds out for all the dubs.” Not a spec of sunshine was breaking through the cloud cover above as the first contest for the club of the day began.
First on to the field was the UMass Dartmouth men’s sevens team facing off against Massachusetts Maritime. Bearing the blue and gold for the Corsairs in the first half were long serving club members Aidan Fitzsimmons, Chris Holman, and John Melanson.
Also comprising the sevens squad was Matt Kilmonis, Brice Muldoon, Louis Saladino, and the new captain Antone Gomes Jr.
The game went off with a rapid score by the Maritime offense, but the first seven-minute half ultimately proved to be a defensive bout between the competitors. The teams broke apart for halftime with Maritime leading 7-0, but the tides were quick to turn in the Corsairs favor.
J.D. Niles and Finn Kearns subbed in for the Corsairs to kick off the second half. The Corsairs first possession ended as Niles flew down the sideline, shedding tackles for UMass Dartmouth’s first try of the day. Kearns followed up with a successful kick to tie the game.
The tie was not meant to last long as former captain Chris Holman spun off the defense and into the zone for the Corsairs second score of the day.
Unfortunately, the kick attempt was not successful, but the Corsairs gained their first lead of the Saturday matches.
The missed kick was made up with a forced turnover by the Corsairs defense at midfield.
An exposed backfield for Maritime fell victim to an open Niles down the home field sideline for a roaring crowd and a clear, clean score. Kearns’s kick would be good as the Corsairs retained the lead.
Once again, the Maritime defense would be exposed by the experienced Kearns who, off a penalty at midfield, found an open hole for the game’s final score. The score would close the second half, and the Corsairs would walk off the field with their first victory of the day. Following the match Niles stated the Corsairs simply: “Catch bodies” on the road to victory.
Senior forward Chris Holman commented, “This is a great way to start the day. Great way to begin the weekend. Making sure everyone gets out there today to play is the most important.”
Players were important for the day as the sevens match was followed by the Corsairs only fifteens matchup against Western New England.
The Corsairs starting core was loaded with a rank of raw recruits from the fall and current spring season. Given that many of the experienced players still had two more seven matches to go, the Corsairs would have to rely largely on their proficient pack of junior and senior forwards.
Once more the Corsairs wasted no time finding the try zone. After a strong stance by Western New England’s defense, Ehioze Adoghe barreled through the defensive wall for the games first score. The kick attempt would be unsuccessful, but the Corsairs would retain the lead into the close of the first half.
In the second half Matt Kilmonis would score for the Corsairs, and once again the kick attempt would fall out of precision. Alas, an alert member of Western New England’s back line mind-timed a Corsairs passing route down the line for a clear route to score. The oppositions kick attempt would fall unsuccessfully. Although the matchup was a friendly, the Corsairs would walk away victorious
The rain would arrive while the Corsairs waited for their next sevens games. The clubs from Maritime, WNE, and Salve Regina played their own sevens and fifteens matches. Then the Corsairs returned to the freshly dampened field to face-off against the sevens unit from Salve Regina.
Salve Regina performed well with an upper hand for much of the matchup. Salve scored twice with unsuccessful kicks before J.D. Niles would push the Corsairs offense from midfield to their first score of the contest.
Salve Regina would score twice more before Antone Gomes Jr., would charge down the field for the Corsairs second score. Unfortunately, a fifth score from Salve Regina would close the contest.
UMass Dartmouth then moved on to their final match of the day against the sevens teams from Western New England. The first score was executed by Gomes Jr., less than thirty seconds after the opening whistle.
Gomes Jr., paved the way for the Corsairs offense that would score nine times before the closing whistle. Scorers in order (due to the lack of opposition scoring) include: Chris Holman, Antone Gomes Jr. (again), Finn Kearns (scored three times), J.D. Niles, and Aidan Fitzsimmons.
The Corsairs thrashed their final opponents, who would remain scoreless as the closing whistle of the day sounded. Although the Corsairs faced off in a friendly fifteens matchup, their two-one results in sevens placed them in the spring season playoff contention.
As the spring season continues towards close, the ruggers continue to practice and propel on the open fields behind the Tripp Athletic Center Monday through Friday afternoons. The club also participates in team lift sessions and social eating engagements to consecrate the core of Corsair courage.
For more information regarding the UMass Dartmouth Rugby Football Club feel free to contact this article’s attached email, The Torch, the club’s Facebook page, or any of the many participants walking on campus wearing rugby jackets. These delightfully unique individuals love rugby and would love to help you love rugby as well.