(Hanover, NH) Dartmouth's deep three played a pivotal role in Saturday's 60-0 blowout of Harvard at Brophy Field, with wing Justin Ciambella scoring four tries and fullback Madison Hughes volleying for 15 points from the tee.
The visiting Crimson played their best rugby in the first half, but Dartmouth proved superior in stringing together multiple phases on attack and did well in feeding the ball out wide. Ciambella, a former varsity soccer player for Dartmouth, touched down for both of the Big Green's first-half tries. Hughes, selected to last year's Collegiate All-American touring side as a true freshman, converted one of these and notched a penalty goal of his own to leave it 15-0 at the whistle.
Dartmouth had seven unanswered tries in the second half, with stingy defense closing the books on any chance of a Harvard comeback. Ciambella scored twice more for a total of four tries, bringing the score to 29-0 after Hughes slotted the corresponding conversions. The Big Green scored five more times (including an assist and try from freshman flyhalf Parker Gilbert, a former High School All-American), completing the 60-0 shutout with a last-minute defensive stand at their own try line.
It was the Big Green's first league match under new interim head coach Gavin Hickie, formerly of Belmont Shore RFC and the current forwards coach for the USA U-20s. Hickie, a former Irish international, was hand-selected by Alexander Magleby to step in at Dartmouth while the latter fulfills his obligations as head coach of the 7s Eagles. Despite Dartmouth's entrance into the newly-formed Varsity Cup, the 2012-2013 season may well be a rebuilding season for Dartmouth, following the departures of Magleby and the core of experienced seniors behind the program's back-to-back victories in the CRC 7s.
Beginning this year, the Ivy Rugby Conference has elected to realign into two divisions based on geographic proximity: Ivy North and Ivy South. (Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale and Brown make up the former bracket, with Princeton, Columbia, Penn and Cornell composing the latter.) Each club will play the other teams in its division twice during the 15s regular season this fall, rather than the round-robin format used in previous years.
Intriguingly, Ivy Rugby's fall season now concludes November 10th with the Ivy League 7s Championship in Princeton, NJ, bumping its 15s playoffs to the spring. While the conference suffers from an overall lack of competitive balance, the dramatic schedule shift serves as one localized example of 7s' expanding role in growing the sport domestically.
It might also be seen as indicative of another recent trend in the collegiate game, as evidenced by Navy's addition to the Atlantic Coast Rugby League: the increased willingness among American university sides to split from USARFU's perceived 'top-down' management style and independently set schedules more suited to their own academic calendars and traditional rivalries.
Both squads look ahead to September 22nd - Yale hosts Dartmouth in New Haven, while Harvard plays its second away game in as many weeks against Brown University.
Dartmouth Big Green
Tries: Justin Ciambella (4), Rex Littlefield, Wilson Chockley, Kevin Clark, Parker Gilbert, Tyler Moragne
Conversions: Madison Hughes (6/9)
Penalty: Madison Hughes