Rookies shine in loss to Providence

Teams:MIT vs Providence RFC
Played:10/26/2019 @ Pawtucket, RI
Score: 10 - 53 MIT loss

On Saturday, October 26, 2019, MIT traveled to Pawtucket, RI for the Division III playoff consolation game vs. Providence RFC. MIT once again traveled light, with just 16 players, 1 coach, 7 fans, 2 naughty urinating dogs, and 1 wet purse. In their 6th and final game, MIT had their 6th different starting lineup. While the team could have benefited from more lineup consistency, it was a good opportunity for some of the new guys to earn some playing time.

The home team got off to an early lead as their centers and fly-half were able to break tackles and find holes in MIT’s defense. The narrow field did not prevent Providence from spreading their attack wide and putting MIT on their back heels.

Each of the MIT rookies made an impact. Daeshawun had a great Dae putting pressure on the Providence attack and making tackles around the breakdown. Not even a kick to the head could dampen his Dae, as he used his confidence from his strong performance to score a Tinder date for SunDae. Otto, playing out of position in just his second game at scrum-half, had good service to fly-half James. Otto also cleaned up the scraps around the breakdown; putting big hits on the large Providence forwards. Seth was solid on defense and handled the ball well on attack. Henry dragged a Providence player 10 yards and was constantly in good position to run the attack pods. Winger Gabe and his basketball shorts tackled guys three times his size, twice his age, and 1/4th his swagger.

MIT squandered opportunities. James had a line break with no support. Brian also broke the line and passed to JLB in support, but the ref ruled it a forward pass. Everything was going Providence’s way until MIT executed what many people are saying was the greatest try in rugby history. MIT had a scrum at about mid-field. The forwards won the scrum and Steen hooked the ball back with his hooves. Otto gave clean ball to fly-half James. James passed to inside-center JLB. Outside center Sawyer ran a perfect dummy line and JLB passed to a looping James. James hit fullback Gaffney and put him into space. Veteran Gaffney did the rest. First he hit the gap at blazing speed. Next he threw the least subtle dummy of all time; winding up as if he were throwing the ball over one of the many trees lining the field. That put 2 defenders out of the way, but Gaffney still had work to do. Gaffney chip-kicked over the defense. The skilled kicker put perfect weight and spin on the ball. The Providence fullback was in position to retrieve the kick but the ball bounced perfectly into Gaffney’s hands. Some would have said this was a lucky bounce, but as Mikey McDermott said in Rounders, “It’s a skill game Jo!” Gaffney gathered the ball, absorbed a hit from the fullback, and extended his arm over the try line for the score. Fans cheered, dogs wagged their tails, and one of the Providence players vomited on the field in amazement. Gaffney would not finish the game, as he had nothing else left to achieve in the sport.

MIT nearly scored from the same play at the same position of the field when Sawyer bolted through the defensive line and weaved his way down to the 5-meter line but Providence were able to make a try saving tackle. Clearly MIT should have just given the ball to Gaffney again.

The second half saw another highlight reel try although it was nothing compared to Gaffney’s signature moment. Rafael, who came on when one of the Pauls had his weekly niggle, stole the ball at the breakdown. 8-man Brian took off and passed (backwards this time) to Gaffney’s Providence replacement (as if Gaffney is replaceable). The fullback linked up with James for the score.

MIT will now heal up and hibernate before returning for the spring season. The team will meet sporadically throughout the offseason to play touch rugby.

Men of the match: Daeshawun (forwards) and Otto (backs)