Former MCRC President Aaron Yappert '16 Earns Refereeing Scholarship

Article By: Amanda Lubeck

(https://www.usarugby.org/2016/12/donor-spotlight-new-england-rugby-referee-society/)

"People don't referee for the money. They don't get paid enough for that. For the most part, everyone who referees is doing it because they love rugby and they want to be a part of it," says Peter Lloyd-Evans, treasurer of New England Rugby Referee Society (NERRS). Armed with this notion, NERRS has long given their members a choice every season: rugby clubs who use NERRS's officiating services pay the society fees, giving NERRS the ability to reimburse their volunteer referees for matches, mileage and other costs associated with officiating. When these reimbursements are distributed, NERRS asks the individual members if they would like to donate a portion of their reimbursement to a nonprofit. The referees can select from a number of different nonprofits and funds including the Shanagher Morrison Referee Fund, supported by USA Rugby Trust. So far this year, 20 referees have donated to the Shanagher Morrison Referee Fund, and Lloyd-Evans expects several more will follow suit and make a donation before the end of the year.

Lloyd-Evans has been a referee for more than 20 years in New England and can't say enough about the benefits of being a rugby official. "It teaches you a lot. It helps you learn how to work with people," he explains. "Refereeing is a people-management exercise. It teaches you confidence and management skills." The refinement of these skills, of course, is one reason NERRS chooses to support the Shanagher Morrison Referee Fund. "A program like the Shanagher Morrison Referee Fund scholarship allows our youngest, most capable, high-potential referees to develop and share their skills with others. That's the goal of the program - not to develop just a single person into a spectacular referee, but to have them bring those lessons back," he says.

Beyond recognizing the importance of developing young referees in order to grow the game, NERRS also shares a deeper connection to the Shanagher Morrison Referee Fund because of its relationship with Don Morrison prior to his death. One of the founders of NERRS, Morrison is revered amongst Society members and within the greater rugby community for his passion and knowledge for the game. "Having Don Morrison available to us was always the best benefit that we could offer to anyone interested in refereeing. His passing was a great loss to us, both in terms of the friendships we created with him and in terms of his leadership and knowledge of how to make referees better. We can't overstate all of the things Don has done for NERRS, so because his name is attached to the fund, that carries a lot of weight. We're committed to supporting that - both in his memory and because we see a direct benefit from the program."

And certainly, NERRS truly has seen the direct benefits of the Shanagher Morrison Referee Fund program firsthand. Three local referees - Amelia Luciano, Emily Hsieh and Aaron Yappert - have been granted the opportunity to partake in the program since its inception in 2013, spending a season honing their referee skills in a tier-one rugby nation. Lloyd-Evans explains the positive impact this has made on rugby in New England: "When these referees return, they're able to take the ideas and techniques they have learned and bring them back. They are committed to continuing to support our society and to the development of referees in the United States."

USA Rugby Trust thanks the New England Rugby Referee Society members who contributed to the Shanagher Morrison Referee Fund. If you know a young referee who could benefit from this program, encourage them to apply today! Applications must be received by December 23.

In Lloyd-Evans's mind, growing the game of rugby has three components: growing the player pool, developing the coaches and training the referees who can create an environment where the game can be played consistently and safely. USA Rugby Trust is committed to growing and developing the game at all levels. If you would like to contribute to this mission, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to USA Rugby Trust.

If you are interested in becoming a referee, please visit the USA Rugby Referees resources page to get started!

Nationals Results

Middlebury took on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater in the National Sweet 16 in the 2016 DII National Tournament. The MCRC fell to the eventual champion 55-8. See the box score below.

 

UWW: 58

Middlebury: 8

Tries: Kwame Mukasa '19

Penalty Kicks: Jake Feury '16.5

 

Following the loss, the MCRC took on the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in the Consolation Bracket in an effort to finish 9th-12th .The MCRC came out on top, with a 27-12 victory.

 

Middlebury: 27

Tries: Jake Feury '16.5, Kwame Mukasa '19, Campbell Boswell '19, Alex Hogenhuis '19

Penalty Kicks: Jake Feury '16.5

Conversions: Jake Feury '16.5 (3)

Middlebury Qualifies For Nationals

Article by: Alex Hogenhuis

“I don’t ask for greatness, only the opportunity to show that I am great,” Jackson Yang ’17 thundered over the hostile jeers of the home fans moments before kick off in last Sunday’s regional playoff between the Middlebury College Rugby Club (MCRC) and Plymouth State University. “Take today to prove to each other just how great you can be, prove just how good you are.” 

It was not the first time that he had delivered this speech. Three weeks earlier, Yang shared his drive and vision during the warm-up before the MCRC’s second game against the University of New Hampshire. At that point in the season the MCRC was 1-4, a playoff berth was off the table, and any speeches were less of an affirmation of the team’s ability and more of a demand that the team play to its potential. 

And potential they had. Coming into the season, Middlebury seemed to be a favorite the win the division. With the skilled duo of Jake Feury ’16.5 and Jackson Yang , the blistering speed of USA Maccabi Team selection Adam Markun ‘17, and a mix of experienced veterans and young talent, the MCRC seemed poised to dominate the New England Collegiate Rugby Conference (NECRC) and secure a place in Division II National Playoffs . 

However, until the fateful game in New Hampshire, the team had fallen flat. A shocking 34-12 loss to Norwich University was followed by losses to The University of Rhode Island (URI) and The University of Vermont (UVM). The only consolation was a 59-3 victory against University of New Hampshire. Sitting one spot above last place left little else to be cherished. Club leaders began giving speeches about “playing for pride” and “not giving up on the season”, clear signs that any sliver of hope was quickly fading. 

Too often clichéd metaphors are used to describe the ‘turning point’ in a season. But in the huddle before the second game at UNH, Jackson Yang’s speech sparked a transformation the hearts of his teammates. They were even more inspired to strive for glory, for streams of confetti, for golden trophies. More importantly they were inspired play for each other and show just what they were capable of. 

With this newly ignited fire in their hearts, the MCRC began a systematic breakdown of UNH that ended in a 77-12 victory. The wide margin of this victory opened a slim possibility for a playoff berth and a chance for the Panthers to reclaim their season. In order to do so, the Panthers would need to win their final rematches against UVM and URI. In another fortuitous turn of events, former coach and owner of the Marquis Ben Wells returned to the MCRC to provide invaluable insight into forging a championship team. 

With newfound hope, the MCRC began a relentless build towards playoff contention. Despite losing to UVM by a mere two points in their last encounter, tries from Markun, Yang, and Feury helped propel the Panthers to a hard-fought 19-12 victory 

After this phenomenal win, the MCRC set their sights on URI. In order to secure their playoff hopes, the Panthers were obliged to win by a margin of no less than 8 points. The Panthers took the field on a frigid Friday afternoon and rose to the occasion admirably, routing URI 42-13 and achieving a playoff run that once seemed impossible. 

Given all they had gone through in the past three weeks to reach this game at Plymouth, Jackson Yang’s speech took on a new light. “Proving to each other how great you can be” was no longer a statement of unjustified superiority. It was no longer a call for performance that reflected the team’s true potential. It had become a reminder of the Herculean trials that the team had overcome to breathe new life into the season. Moreover, the speech exemplified the point that that when the chips are down good teammates don’t play for themselves. They play for each other. 

The MCRC had just two days to prepare for its playoff game against Plymouth State in New Hampshire. It quickly became clear that this would be one of the season’s hardest challenges for the Panthers. After gaining an early 13-0 lead thanks to a try and two penalty kicks from Feury, Plymouth rallied and tied the game at 19 with ten minutes remaining. Fortunately an interception by Kyle Dickey ’17 started a drive that ended with a game-winning try that cemented a place for the Panthers at the Division II National Playoffs in Pittsburgh this weekend. 

The Panthers’ first game at Nationals will be on Nov. 19 against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the best Division II rugby team in the country. Although Middlebury is not favoured, overcoming Goliath seems a possibility for a club way determined to fly in the face of long odds. When discussing the MCRC, rugby pundit Alex Goff succinctly stated that you “got to love a team that won’t give up”. Indeed, aspiring to greatness is a dream the players of the Middlebury College Rugby Club will not be giving up during this weekend and beyond.

Middlebury Rugby Defeats UNH for 2nd Win

Article by: Colin Mackintosh

On Saturday October 29th, the Middlebury Rugby team defeated the University of New Hampshire 77-12 for their second win of the season. After a string of very close losses, the rugby team put their talents on full display this weekend. Key contributions came from Captains Jake Feury ’16.5, who finished the game with three trys, and Kyle Dickey ’17, who was instrumental in the forwards pack and in line-out play. Jackson Yang ’17 finished the game with four trys, adding to an already impressive season, and Adam Markun ’17 made his season debut, bringing pace on the wing and scoring two trys in the second half. From start to finish Middlebury was looking to score. The potent Middlebury offense delivered an easy win to give Middlebury momentum going into their final two games of the season. 

Feury ’16.5 began the scoring in the early minutes of the game after juking a pair of defenders to give Middlebury a 7-0 lead. Yang ‘17 added another try quickly thereafter to put Middlebury up by 14 points. UNH fought back and cut the lead to 14-7, but that would be the closest they would get. On the next possession, Feury ’16.5 and Markun ’17 combined to move the ball 70 yards down the field for a score. Scott Westvold ‘19 scored next to put Middlebury up 24-7, and trys by both Feury ’16.5 and Yang ’17 gave Middlebury a 43-7 lead going into halftime. 

The Middlebury momentum continued throughout the entire second half. Markun ’17 scored both of his trys early in the second half to give Middlebury a 57-7 lead. Lev Khodaverdy ’17 was next in line for a try. Khodaverdy ’17 intercepted a UNH pass and took the ball 60 yards in the opposite direction for his first try of the season. Amani Core ’19 also scored his first try of the season later in the second half. Core ’19, a regular in the forward pack, was instead playing on the wing and showed off his speed as he sprinted 50 yards and touched the ball down in the try zone. Additional trys from Yang ’17 and Westvold ’19 pushed the Middlebury scoring binge to 77 points for the game. UNH managed another score in the second half to make the final score 77-12 in favor of Middlebury. 

The win pushed Middlebury’s record to 2-4 on the season. Middlebury is currently fourth out of five teams in the New England College Rugby Conference, however, three of their four losses have been by single digits. In their final two games, Middlebury plays the University of Vermont and the University of Rhode Island, the two teams ahead of them in the conference. If Middlebury wins out, they could end the season in a tie for second. After the momentum building win against UNH, Middlebury heads to the University of Vermont next Saturday, where they hope to continue their push for second place. The final game of the season will be played against the University of Rhode Island at Middlebury the following Saturday.

Middlebury Defeats UNH

By: Colin Mackintosh

This past Saturday, the Middlebury Rugby Club looked dominant in their first home game of the season against the University of New Hampshire. The MCRC scored early and often en route to a convincing 58-3 win. The team had strong contributions from essentially every position, and overall it was a very good team win. In particular, senior backs Jackson Yang ’17 and Co-Captain Jake Feury ’16.5 created numerous scoring opportunities. Paul Molloy ’17 looked in command of the back line, despite starting for the first time at scrum-half on A-Side. Molloy had no issues communicating with Dylan Gorman ’16.5, who effortlessly distributed the ball among the backs. As for the forwards, Co-Captain Kyle Dickey ’17 had a strong performance, as did fellow seniors Henry Thomson ’17 and Colin Larsen ’17. With the win, the MCRC moved to 1-1 on the season, after falling in the season opener at Norwich University. 

Senior Jackson Yang '17 started the scoring in the first few minutes when he sprinted through the UNH defensive line and managed to dive across the try-line to touch the ball for the score. Yang was in the middle of the action on the very next possession as he passed to Gorman, who masterfully kicked the ball past the defense. Scott Westvold '19 was on the end of the kick and scored to put Middlebury up 10-0. UNH cut the led to 10-3, converting a kick off of a Middlebury penalty, but they would be kept off the scoreboard the rest of the game. Jake Feury '16.5 continued the strong play for Middlebury in the first half with two scoring runs, powering through the UNH defense as he refused to be tackled. Feury also had a penalty conversion near the end of the first half, giving Middlebury a 27-3 lead going into halftime. 

Middlebury continued the momentum throughout the entirety of the second half. Jackson Yang started off the second half with another try to extend Middlebury's lead to 32-3. Yang scored yet again later in the half as did Feury. The pair combined for six scores throughout the game, and are shaping up to be a very dynamic duo for Middlebury going forward. The remaining Middlebury trys were scored by Kwame Mukasa '19 and Julien Miller '17. Mukasa played on the wing the whole game. His fast pace and elusiveness had UNH stumbling for 80 minutes, and he opened up large gaps in the defense that were continually exploited by himself and his teammates. Miller, the President of the MCRC, entered the game as a substitute and delivered much energy on defense, in addition to showing off his speed during his long scoring run. In the end, the MCRC played very good and entertaining team rugby in front of a strong crowd of pleased alumni and students. 

The MCRC look to continue their strong play next weekend away at the University of Rhode Island. With a win, the MCRC would move to 2-1 on the season, and could put themselves in a strong position within the conference and DII. The next home game will be on October 8th against Norwich University, and the club would love to get another large home crowd to watch some exciting, high-quality rugby!

Middlebury College (1-1) - 58
University of New Hampshire (0-2) - 3

Middlebury Tries: 
- Jackson Yang '17 (3)
- Jake Feury '16.5 (3)
- Scott Westvold '19
- Kwame Mukasa '19
- Julien Miller '17

Middlebury Penalty Kicks:
- Jake Feury '16.5 (2)

Middlebury Conversions:
- Jake Feury '16.5 (4)
- Henry Kremer '19