The DWRC got off to a slow start in the much-anticipated Ivy Rugby 7 Championship on Saturday. Dartmouth left several tries on the pitch in both pool play matches. The Big Green failed to quickly deliver the ball to open outside runners on too many occasions and did not capitalize on re-possessed ball won with their much-improved counter-rucking. They managed to hold onto first place in their pool with an unimpressive tie against a speedy Yale squad and a mere 2-point win over Princeton.
With athletic and well-coached teams Brown and Penn advancing at #1 and #2 out of the other pool, and the physically daunting Tigers advancing at #2 from the DWRC pool, it appeared to be anyone’s tournament. But Dartmouth was just getting warmed up, and by the Cup playoff rounds the Big Green Machine came roaring alive, ready to show the other Ivies just how far they have come in their experimental “7s-only” spring season.
Dartmouth 17, Yale 17
The DWRC woke up a full 3 hours before their first scheduled match, but that was not obvious during the Eli-Big Green match up. Yale, on the other hand, appeared to have eaten their Wheaties. Led by President Katie Chockley ’14, sister of DRFC player Wilson Chockley ’15, the Elis gave the Big Green their only non-win of the tournament with some good decision-making and excellent breaks up the touch line and the middle. Chockley made one of the best plays of the match after she sprinted 60 meters on a midfield line-break but was tackled hard from behind by DWRC sweeper and captain Diana Wise ’15. Chockley managed not only to hold onto the ball but to execute a great pass from the ground to her support player for the try.
The DWRC got their handling skills back after last week’s disappointing home tournament catch-pass performance. Wise started the scoring with an assist from Tatjana Toeldte ’16 and Michaela Conway converted that try before she went out on a rotation. As the game went on, the aptly named “Dynamic Duo” of loosehead prop Yejadai Dunn ’16 and scrumhalf Leandra Barrett ’15 got their defensive groove back, which made life difficult for the Eli’s around the scrums. Barrett and Dunn each got a try with great support and well-timed runs.
Dartmouth 7, Princeton 5
Princeton’s large, aggressive forwards gave the Big Green’s small forwards a difficult time in the scrums, but Dartmouth, led by forwards Captain Allison Brouckman ’15, made the necessary adjustments and at least got one free kick out of Princeton’s zealous early drives. The DWRC’s lone try came in the opening minutes, after Diana Wise put the team in a scoring position with a sprint up the touchline. Michaela Conway fought hard for the ball in the loose when Wise was tackled, re-gaining possession, and delivering it quickly down the line, where “Speedy Peety” Karampreet Kaur ’15 turned on the jets – turning the corner on her opposite number then cutting back to avoid the cross-cover defender and to dot it down under the posts. Conway converted for what would become the winning points. Princeton’s try came after a Big Green passing error resulted in a quick-reacting Princeton player who scooped up the ball and running 25 meters for the try.
Dartmouth 31, Penn 12
The “luck of the draw” had Penn and Brown playing in the Semi Finals only 20 minutes after finishing their 2nd pool match, and the Big Green took advantage of their well-rested status by coming out with a hard-hitting inside defense and moving the ball quickly away from re-possessions at the tackle. Penn had a hard time maintaining possession long enough to get much offense going, though they did manage to sneak up the blind side of a tackle to put the first 5 of the match on the board. They also capitalized on a quick tap penalty in the second half, converting the try to come away with 12 points in the match.
Captain Diana Wise ’15 started the DWRC scoring off with back-to-back tries, the first at the Penn post-score kickoff and the next shortly thereafter when she beat the entire Penn line around the corner. Wise also had an outstanding defensive game at sweeper, making great, re-possessing open field tackles. The rest of the scoring effort was well-balanced, with Audrey Perez ’17, Tatjana Toeldte ’16, Karampreet Kaur ’15, and Yejadai Dunn ’16 each finding the line. Kicker Michaela Conway went 3 for 6 to add 6 points to the tally. Captain Allison Brouckman ’15, Leandra Barrett ‘15 and Toeldte played outstanding defense in the middle, creating many of the opportunities that lead to tries with tenacious tackling and aggressive counter-rucking.
Ivy 7s Championship
Dartmouth 34, Princeton 7
Princeton took down Brown in the 2nd semi-final match to earn a second chance at Dartmouth after their close pool match. But Dartmouth had shaken off the cobwebs, and it was clear early in the match that their team organization, discipline, and speed would be too much for the Tigers to overcome. Tournament MVP Audrey Perez ’17 scored the first 3 tries of the match with impressive dummies and powerful runs up the middle while the rest of the DWRC 7 worked hard to set her up and to re-possess Princeton at their post-score kickoffs. Conway went 2 for 3 for a half-time score of 19-0.
The second half saw the DWRC come alive and move the ball all over the pitch, resulting in tries from Barrett, Wise, and “8th woman-super-sub” Becky Marder ’15 (who plays hooker, scrumhalf, 2nd or 3rd receiver). Princeton scored their lone converted try from a well-executed quick-tap penalty late in the second half, when the Big Green let down momentarily and failed to cover the field. Sevens Guru and ex-Princeton Coach Emil Signes was very impressed with the Dartmouth team. After the finals, he commented that it was clear Dartmouth had been working together as a 7s team, that their feel for the game and their teamwork were impressive, and that even nuances like the appropriate time to “double-tackle” seemed to be understood and executed well by the entire team.
Dartmouth is now preparing for ACRA 7s Nationals at Grand Valley State in Allendale, Michigan, where they will face Air Force, Navy, and Iowa State in pool play on Saturday, May 3. The other pool is topped by defending National Champions Norwich University and is filled out by Minnesota, Rutgers, and Lindenwood.
Directions and a schedule for the ACRA 7s Nationals will be sent out soon. Please come and support us in our first bid for a National 7s Title!