16 March 2008
DWRC vs. St. Mary's
The DWRC woke up on Sunday, March 16, two days after arriving in Ireland, with a bit of dilemma. Half of the team, including most of the older players and Coach Deb, had come down with a mysterious, virulent illness on Saturday, and were simply too sick to play in our first match. With just 15 able bodies, mostly rookies, we decided to "go for it" with true rugby spirit and enthusiasm. At the end of the wet, cold, and windy day, Dartmouth suffered a loss at the hands of a very respectable St. Mary's College side, but had made significant gains in our ability to pull together as a team and have a great time on the pitch. The Big Green started the match with strong possession of the ball, using the wind to keep pressure on St. Mary's with well-placed kicks. St. Mary's big #8 pummeled Dartmouth's loose forwards around the rucks, and eventually crashed her way over the tryline from the back of a set scrum, bringing the score to 0-5.
The setback did not deter the ladies in green. Dartmouth demonstrated a valiant effort against St. Mary's strong offensive players. Fullback Caroline "Aggressive with her fingers" Cima '10 stopped what appeared to be a sure try as St. Mary's created a three-on-one on the outside. Megan "Who needs shorts? I can ruck in sweats!" Thorn '11, blocked a St. Mary's kick, resulting in a scrum to Dartmouth. Scrumhalf Ilda "Finds carrots in bed" Bajraktari '11 drew an offsides penalty on her opposite number, and momentum swung as Dartmouth attempted to capitalize on several penalties made by St. Mary's. Bajraktari and #8 Alysia "Fine collector" Harris '08 kept up defensive pressure off the scrums and the DWRC's offense came alive with tremendous crashing and maneuvering techniques. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, St. Mary's regained possession, and their flyhalf, a strong player, broke several close tackles to put their second try on the board. The try was converted, increasing their lead to 0-12.
After half time, Dartmouth renewed their efforts to gain ground and increase their defensive pressure. Featured during the second half were big tackles by the Big Green, by both forwards and backs. Making one of several spectacular tackles, Hooker Amelia "Coffee is my water" Alvarez '08 won the ball back for Dartmouth soon after kickoff. Though the Big Green worked hard to burst onto the ball and maintain continuous play, sloppy ball handling and weak presentations of the ball during rucks allowed St. Mary's to regain possession of the ball. St. Mary's star #8 exhibited fancy footwork and ball skills on a long run towards the tryline, only to be stopped by a tremendous tackle from Harris. St. Mary's continued to maintain possession, but was met with more tackles by Mallory "Can get all the South African guys with her dance moves" McQueen '09, Annie "Can't go too long without clean laundry" Jones '11, and Wing Kristen "Stocked up on freshmen men" Liu '11. Dartmouth's strong defense allowed the ladies in green to attack offensively against St. Mary's. For most of the second half, the Big Green muddied up St. Mary's side of the field. Closing in on the tryline, Dartmouth worked hard to bypass St. Mary's strong defense. However, problems with getting the ball out of scrums forced Dartmouth to lose momentum and ground. Dartmouth ended the game by steadily gaining ground and increasing offensive pressure.
18 March 2008
DWRC vs. Bowdoin College
As luck would have it, Bowdoin was touring Limerick at the same time Dartmouth was, and, both teams having had matches cancelled, we agreed to scrimmage.
Training Monday and Tuesday morning with an almost-fully recovered squad, and with efforts to correct deficits revealed in the St. Mary's match, the Big Green started off their scrimmage with Bowdoin with strong tackles, much-improved offensive footwork, off-loading, and support, and much improved team defensive organization, making several tries in the first half and never looking back. A Green kickoff to Bowdoin put the game into motion. Quick hands and feet allowed Bowdoin to run with the ball past the halfline, but before the Polar Bears could claw any further up the field, Leila "I have a twin?" English '09 successfully intercepted a pass. Unfortunately, she knocked on to the ball, resulting in a scrum to Bowdoin. Dartmouth regained possession soon afterwards, with Katie "What? Yeah! Ugh!" Moerlein '08 pushing Bowdoin into touch and Green winning the lineout.
From then on, the big Green kept the ball in their possession with a strong vertical game. Consistent throughout rucks was the duo offensive assault of Scrumhalf Julia "Multi-use player" Jacobsen '08 and 8-man Alysia "Bama" Harris '08 , with good support coming from the back. Winning the ball on a Green lineout 10 meters from the try line, Harris ran through the holes in Bowdoin's defense to make the first score of the game, 5-0. The first half also presented a brilliant opportunity for Wing Rachel "Climbs in her free time" Forman '09 to flex her swift running muscles and flash her pink cleats. Breaking through on the outside, she sprinted 80 meters to the try line and scored, bringing the score to 10-0. The ladies in Green continued to dominate the field until half time, with another converted try bringing the half time score to 17-0.
The Big Green's vigor did not waver during the second half. Dartmouth capitalized on Bowdoin's reluctance to tackle and made a greater effort to have more than one person in support of the ball carrier. A 22 meter dropout by Jacobsen allowed the Big Green to gain ground, followed by a successful rolling maul, which kept the ball in Green's possession. The Polar Bears, though, caught the Big Green off guard by regaining the ball and showing increased determination to break through Green's defense. Bowdoin succeeded in pushing Dartmouth back to the try zone, but a kick by Melanie "I have no identity" Pastuck '11 turned the game back into Dartmouth's favor. The second half also featured more excellent runs by Dartmouth. Second row Meghan "T-Rex" McDavid '10 ran 25 meters through holes in Bowdoin's defensive line, and Fullback Caroline "Mad Libs make me so happy" Cima '10 exploded on the open field space to score. The last few minutes of the game displayed a tremendous support effort by the backs. Strong hands on passing and quick feet on looping moved the ball out to Wing Kristen "Darling" Liu '11, who was supported by Mallory "Which outfit should I wear?" McQueen '09 to make a try, bringing the total score of the game to 36-0.
20 March 2008
DWRC vs. Creggs
The DWRC trekked north of Galway to the tiny hamlet of Creggs (population 100) for what turned out to be our final tour match. It was almost dark as we opened the bus door at the seemingly deserted, and under-construction, clubhouse, and we were instantly overwhelmed as the steadily increasing winds of a fast-moving storm carried the powerful smell of freshly harvested cow manure through the bus. Oh, the wonders of tour...
The pitch was surprisingly well-lit, and under normal circumstances it would have been a very nice venue (minus the neighboring farm and its olfactory offerings). But this was no ordinary night. By the time the opening whistle blew, the night had been transformed into a swirling maelstrom, complete with unpredictably strong gusts of wind, sideways-pelting-rain, and heavy, sucking mud underfoot. The referee never arrived. The Creggs needed three of our players to complete their side. The stage was set for a less-than-satisfactory outcome...
But... the overwhelming spirit and determination of the DWRC made the match into a worthwhile and heartening event. Handling and support, despite terrible conditions, was phenomenal. Hard passing and harder running, communications shouted loudly in order to be heard over the wind and rain, and Big Green domination at the breakdowns enabled the DWRC to run rampart over the startled and impressed Creggs side. Dartmouth was in fine form as we controlled the match with our preferred style of play- vertical attacking from all over the pitch. #7 Michelle Dunn '09, #8 Alysia Harris '08, and #9 Julia Jacobsen '08 had a hey-day, choosing off-loads and give-and-goes instead of phase play against a disorganized Creggs' defense. Harris touched the ball down to open the Big Green's unanswered scoring run, and Jacobsen's footwork was all that was needed late in the match to finish the job after a valiant team effort caused a turnover at Creggs' twenty-meter line. #1 Amelia Alvarez not only had a great defensive day, but contributed the second try of the night after executing her signature tackle-and-poach and powering her way to the tryline. Not to be "left out in the rain", the speedy outside backs of the DWRC managed to prove that mud and rain do not necessarily add up to a forwards match, as #14 Rachel Forman '09 has some excellent runs, and #15 Caroline Cima '10 jetted through flat-footed defenders and added the third try of the match, bringing the half-time score to 15-0. All four of #11 Annie Jones '11 attempts at conversions were incredibly well-taken, though all were blown off-course by the swirling and gusting winds.
Of final note was the courageous play of the three rookies who were sacrificed to Creggs. Ilda Bajraktari '11 at #9, Autumn Dunn '11 at #5, and Kristen Liu '11 at #11 all played valiantly and very commendably, shouting organizational suggestions to their adopted teammates and playing very aggressive defense against the older and more experienced DWRC personnel. After the match, they commented that they were surprised at how much more they knew than their Creggs teammates, even though the Creggs girls were either more experienced or as experienced as they themselves were. HAT'S OFF to Tour, and to the DWRC ORGANIZATION!
Tour Journal to be added soon.