MIT wins the NERFU Cup

Teams:MIT vs Old Gold, Cape Cod, Amoskeag
Played:05/18/2024 @ Newport, RI
Score: 15 - 7 MIT win

MIT combined forces with Boston Maccabi RFC and traveled to Newport, RI for the 2-day NERFU Cup tournament. It had been exactly a decade since their last Cup victory in 2014. With a favorable schedule due to the wonderful and unbiased D3 director; MIT arrived fresh in the afternoon after being able to sleep in on Saturday.

The weather was classic New England spring weather: wind and rain. MIT had the wind at their back in their first matchup vs. Old Gold RFC. Captain / fly-half Harry announced that they would be kicking in order to utilize the wind as part of their game plan, but even he could not have predicted how well this strategy would pay off.

In MIT’s 1st possession, they banged the ball up a few times with the forwards and then Harry booted the ball down the middle of the field. Outside center Jordan S. chased the ball down and it bounced up perfectly for him to catch in stride. He darted into the try-zone for an early score. A few minutes later Harry would again go to the boot as he put a cross-kick up for HBS winger Sean (keep your friends close and your enemies closer), who caught this one in the air and took 3 steps into the corner of the try zone. 5 minutes, 2 kicks and 2 try's; things were going well.

MIT dominated possession the rest of the game. Their forward pack were rolling. Phil scored off a maul and Joris scored off a pick-and-go. Joris added another try in the second half. The backs got in on the action when Harry and winger Alex M. executed a perfect move off a set-piece to put Alex into space and under the posts. Old Gold were able to get on the board at the end, but it was too little too late. 34-7 MIT.

After a brief break for orange slices, the team returned to the field for their second match vs. Cape Cod Rugby. Before the game, player/coach/8-man Peter announced it would be his final game after an illustrious 24-year career. The team was fired up to make sure he went out with a win. The scoring started when Cape Cod tried to run the ball out of their own 22. The smothering backline defense pressured one of the Cape Cod backs to attempt an offload in his own try zone. Jordan intercepted it and dropped to the ground for one of the easiest and strangest scores on the weekend. Alex M. scored off of a scrum, and Peter finished off the scoring with one of his patented tap-and-go’s to make it 21-0. The game got sloppy towards the end, and Cape Cod threatened to score, but MIT’s defense held, thanks in part to a great goal line tackle from Sam Adams AKA Boston Lager. The team was all smiles after finishing the day 2-0 and only conceding 1 try to the opposition. Peter was carried off the field and the team headed out to their 5-star accommodations and to seek out the finest steaks that AppleBees had to offer.

MIT started off Sunday with an early 9:30 AM rematch with Cape Cod in the semi-finals. Losing Enrico to injury and Peter to graduation was tough, but the mysterious disappearance of Phillip in the middle of the night was OK, because the team brought 4 other scrum-halves to the tournament. Some had scoffed at the choice to bring 5 scrum-halves; and not since South Africa’s use of the 7-1 split in the 2023 World Cup has such an innovative / controversial rugby scheme taken place. Phillip’s face was plastered on milk cartons and Del’s Lemonade cups throughout the area and he was eventually located.

Sunday also saw reinforcements arrive from Boston in Keelan and Mel; both of whom would play a factor in Sunday's games. Having already lost to MIT on Saturday, Cape Cod deployed a new strategy of tackling high, which did not pay off for them. They received 2 yellow cards and multiple penalties for the offenses, thanks in part to some acting from Alex M., as if he were the one graduating from Suffolk with a theater degree (congrats to Alex's sister!). At one point Phil somehow managed to receive a penalty for being tackled illegally. The ref may have awarded this to Cape Cod for finally not high-tackling for once. MIT kicked off the scoring with winger Sean scoring in the corner. Erik, fueled solely from home-made protein granola bars, scored next. Cape Cod scored near the end, but like Saturday vs. Old Gold, it was too little too late. Final score 12-8.

MIT then set to face off against Amoskeag RFC in the final. Having lost to them in a nail-biter in the fall, they were seeking revenge. With Phil and Alex leaving for graduations, the team was desperate for forward depth. Luckily, a promiscuous vagabond named Jake showed up at just the right time. He claimed he was looking for Worcester RFC, but what he was really looking for was a championship contender, and he found it in MIT (Worcester would end up losing in their pool final to Mystic; clearly because they were missing Jake). The referee announced at kickoff that there would be 2 20 minute halves of rugby, which was a pleasant surprise as the team was expecting a 60 minute match.

Winger Mel kicked off the scoring for MIT after the forwards turned the ball over and the backs worked the ball wide. Amoskeag struck back after a high tackle penalty led to a successful kick at posts to make it 5-3. Next, scrum-half Bobby spotted an overload on the weak-side and passed the ball to inside center John who popped the ball to Jordan for the second try of the game. Harry added a penalty kick for insurance. MIT’s blitzing defense held up and Amoskeag had no answers in the second half. The final whistle blew and MIT were champs.

Other highlights from the weekend:
- Tyler’s violent, but effective, pre-game pump-up speeches
- Harry kicking so well with his right foot that he tried one with his left foot (with great success)
- Sam Abel recovering from a night out and contributing wherever needed as only a young man can
- Hard running and tackling from Zach
- Dan being a menace on kickoffs (also credit to Harry’s right foot for booming kickoffs)
- Boston Lager with a questionable overhead pass attempt in open-play
- Jordan wearing the pink flamingo shirt for his impressive play on Saturday
- Tyler's overalls
- Joris’s lungs

Overall, the weekend was a great success, not just because of the championship trophy, but because the team overcame adversity by sticking to a game plan that they had worked on all season at practice. The pack did the hard work, winning scrums, lineouts, and possession which gave great platform for the backs to run around all weekend.