Dartmouth Rugby kicked off its preseason this past weekend with a trip to Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. There the Big Green took on Queens as well as traditional cross-border rivals McGill University.
The weekend served as an excellent learning experience for a young Dartmouth side under a new coaching staff. Even though the results were not as desired, Captain Michael Burbank felt the team showed, “Good defense, good intensity, and finished strong,” and he came out of the weekend optimistic about the upcoming Ivy season.
On Saturday afternoon, Dartmouth took on a strong McGill side that was sure to test the Big Green. Dartmouth was put under pressure from the start, with McGill controlling possession and field position. After running multiple phases in the Dartmouth defensive zone, McGill created an overlap on the wing and were able to put home their first try in the corner. The conversion was good making the score 7-0.
Dartmouth looked dangerous following the try, culminating with a nice run deep into McGill territory from forwards Dylan Jones and Michael Burbank. But the Big Green were stopped near the goal line, giving up a penalty and allowing the Redmen to relieve pressure.
McGill struck again in the first half after finding a seam in the Dartmouth defense and scoring a try between the posts, making the score 14-0 heading into the half. The second half started poorly for Dartmouth, with a blocked kick on the goal line turning into a try for McGill. The conversion was unsuccessful, making the score 19-0 early in the second half. Dartmouth settled down following the try, gaining more consistent possession and tightening up their defensive wall, but they were unable to get on the board before the final whistle.
The second side experienced many of the same issues as the first side, withstanding constant pressure from the McGill second side and allowing three tries throughout the game. Yet the Big Green were able to get on the board with a nice run from forward Chris Banks through the McGill defense. The game ended with a score of 17-7.
Sunday morning brought a new challenge for the Big Green when they faced off against the host and Canadian powerhouse Queens University. Dartmouth dominated early possession and drove deep into Queens territory. The impressive drive was capped off by a Lawrence Anfo-Whyte dive into the try zone to put the Big Green up 5-0.
Queens also struck before the end of the first half, converting a penalty kick to make the score 5-3. The second half was just as hard fought as the first, but Dartmouth struggled to return to the try zone even after a series of impressive counterattacking runs from Madison Hughes.
Queens converted two more penalties to take the lead and push the score to 9-5. Dartmouth battled to cut into the Queens lead before the final whistle, but could not break through the stout Queens defense, giving Queens the victory.
The young Dartmouth second side struggled against an impressive Queens unit, finding difficulty maintaining possession and stopping a quick Queens backline. The second XV was shut out in the match, 36-0.
“On Sunday we fixed up a lot of things that we didn’t do well on Saturday, in particular set piece. Even though our offense is not where we want it to be, we were consistent on the defensive side of the ball and showed great improvement over Saturday,” Burbank said.
The team looks forward to two more hard weeks of practice and the Granite Cup tournament in preparation for their season opener against Harvard on September 15th.