PURFC played its final Ivy League match of the fall 2017 season home at West Windsor against the Yale Bulldogs.
Yale arrived as 8-point favorites based on the projections of the USA Rugby press. As the Yale team emerged from their bus it became obvious why they were picked to beat Princeton. Coach Richard Lopacki described them as the biggest and most athletic Yale squad he had ever seen in his 18 years of coaching Princeton.
The A-side game was played with high intensity from start to finish. Tries were traded in the early going with only a conversion by Princeton’s Andrew Slade making the difference 12-10 midway through the first half.
Yale dominated possession in the Princeton 22 for a great deal of the game and it was only determined defense by the home side that kept the game close.
In the second half, Princeton appeared to have a breakthrough when Junior wing Luke Hall intercepted a Yale pass and ran 70 meters, just beating the defenders, to take Princeton to a 19-10 lead.
However, Yale quickly fought back with their big power runners making significant dents in the Princeton defense. After multiple hard charging attacks, Yale broke the Princeton defense to score two unconverted tries in quick succession to snatch the lead 20-19.
At this point, Senior Co-captain Billy Haynes suffered a hit to the head making a tackle against the massive Yale loosehead prop and had to be removed from the field. The Princeton team redoubled its efforts and played with even greater determination. Co-captain and Senior Mark Goldstein led from the front and kept the side totally focused on what the Tigers needed to do to win the match.
Late in the second half a Yale player received a yellow card after repeated infringements in the breakdown, and the Bulldogs were forced to play the rest of the game a man short. In the closing minutes of the match, Hall took advantage of a defensive hole and ran in his second try from the wing. Princeton emerged victorious with a final score of 24-20.
Billy Haynes was the A-side Man of the Match.
In the much-anticipated B-side game, Princeton was finally able to field a full B-side of 15 players and 6 subs following completion of the medical tests now required by the university. Ironically, the new multi-staged clearance process introduced by Princeton Athletic Medicine this fall resulted in our new players playing their first game in the very last match of the Ivy season.
The B-side game was a full 80 minutes to give the newly minted Tigers a good run. While the experienced Yale B-side handily won the game 56-12, the orange-shirted Tigers celebrated taking the field as a unit and scored two impressive tries of their own. Playing his first ever game for Princeton at fly half, freshman Eric Hardy was the B-side Man of the Match.
For the second time this season, the Princeton Rugby Parents supporters group cheered the Tigers from the sidelines and helped organize post-match nutritious snacks and pizzas for both Yale and Princeton teams.
Princeton wishes Yale all the best for the remainder of their season, including their upcoming clash with Harvard this Saturday.
PURFC ended its Ivy season with 4 solid wins and 2 defeats. The team will enjoy a much-deserved fall break and return to play the Flying Tigers on November 18. The B-side will take the field in at least one more developmental match this season as we are exploring possible games on both November 11th and November 18th.