Rugby team advances

The UVM men’s rugby team won its first home playoff game in dominating fashion Saturday, defeating the University of Maine-Farmington 39-7. The cold, blustery conditions on the pitch seemed to affect Vermont in the opening 20 minutes of the match. Sloppy play allowing UMF to strike first scoring a try and converting the ensuing kick. “The cold caused some problems for us at the beginning, we were playing awful,” UVM senior Brian Breslend said. “But once we started hitting people, things started getting better.” Things did get better, to the tune of 39 unanswered points neatly scattered throughout the remainder of the first and the second halves. Leading the way for the Catamounts were junior Matthew Bystock and senior captain Nick Williams. Bystock, who seemed to be in the thick of every play, could be seen shouting at and motivating the team after their lackluster start, and it seemed to work, as UVM controlled the pace of the game from that point on. Williams scored the first try of the game for the Catamounts to tie the game and he also scored the winning points, punting the ball through the uprights for a field goal, making the score 10-7 at halftime. After the half it was all Vermont, with UMF only mustering one serious offensive threat the entire half. Strong tackling and precision passing seemed to cause frustration for the larger UMF team, who by the end simply could not keep up with the smaller, quicker Catamounts. “We’re a smaller team than most, but we make up for it with our speed and endurance,” Bresland said. Williams displayed all of these traits in a long scramble late in the second half during which he shifted and spun his way past UMF defenders, leaving many players throwing themselves at air. The run led to the final Catamount score of the day. This playoff victory has been a long time coming, coach Declan Connelly said. “This team has a lot of potential, its something we’ve been building on the last few years,” Connelly said. With the victory over Maine-Farmington, UVM moves on to the New England Rugby Football Union tournament to be held next weekend at Middlebury College, with the semifinals being held Saturday and the finals Sunday. Should the Catamounts prevail next weekend and then at the Northern Rugby Union playoffs, which include teams from New York state as well as New England, they will play in nationals next spring. But for now, the Catamounts are celebrating their victory but remaining focused on next weekend, where they hope to avenge their only loss this year, by three points to Middlebury College. Senior Mike King neatly summed up the team’s attitude toward the upcoming match. “After the last game [against Middlebury] their players did some inappropriate things at the end of the game, and let’s just say some of our guys were a little pissed.”