Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Article by Robert Holowka; photographs by Cindy Lin.
After four years of struggle and dedication, the seniors on the men’s rugby team earned a resounding 39-5 victory against Ursinus college last Saturday. The triumph over Ursinus gave the Garnet an overall 3-1 record this season, the best in recent history.
The men’s team scored their first try off a penalty only a few minutes into Saturday’s Senior Day game and easily dominated from then on. They would go on to score six more tries and make two kicks for extra points, while holding Ursinus to a single score.
Except for a few short periods of attritional gameplay and a disadvantage in the scrum, Swat stayed on the offensive. The Garnet maneuvered freely between barreling assault by the forwards and fluid, open-field runs by the backs. Backs captain Yanncik Lanner- Cusin ’10 scored three tries, while props Keith Blaha ’10 and Alan “Theodore” Zhao ’12 shared four tries between them. Additionally, Brendan Work ’10 made two difficult conversion kicks for four points.
“This is the way Swarthmore should be playing and can play,” commented Cornelius Duffey, the team’s coach, “and now that they’ve realized that, I hope they will continue to play this way.”
If not for several cancellations due to heavy snowfall early on in the season, the men’s team could have racked up even more wins. After a buzzer-beating loss in the season opener, the men’s team went on a three-game winning streak in which they allowed only two tries and handed a 79-0 romping to rival Haverford.
“This season has been great, we scored about 250 points which is probably about the average IQ on this team and I gotta be happy about that,” commented Duffey.
The victory was tinged with some trepidation however, as it marked the final appearance of an incredibly strong senior class. Captains Yannick Lanner-Cusin and Jake “Big Red” Baskin, in addition to some of the teams’ strongest players, Malcolm Thomas Luke Rampersad, Brendan Work, Arthur “Mo” Stewart, Keith Blaha, and newcomer Andrew Hoot will be graduating this semester.
“This semester we just had a strong senior class,” said Zhao, “strong is even an understatement, more like unbelievable. We have eight or nine seniors, all starters, all of them are leaders on the team.”
With the loss of the seniors, the team’s number of players will be cut almost in half for next year. The success of the fall season will depend on heavy recruiting as well as the leadership of Dennis Fan ’11 and Sam “Cajun” Green ’11, who will be returning from abroad. In addition, the team will depend on a continued strong showing from the sophomore class despite the loss of Jordan Luchey, who can longer play due to repeated concussions.
“We’ve got a strong group of sophomores, got some good freshman,” said Baskin, who is the forwards captain. “They’re going to have to do a lot work next semester but I’m not worried about them. It’s tough leaving this team. I’ve loved it. Made some of my best friends here. It will be hard to leave but I think they’ll be able to carry on without us.”
The seniors will be enjoying their last bout of college rugby at their alumni game, which will take place next Saturday at 1 p.m. on Cunningham field.