North America's oldest international intercollegiate rivalry is a rivalry once again.
The Harvard-McGill rugby rivalry, which dates back to 1874, was renewed Saturday at Soldiers Field, and the McGill Rugby Football Club defeated Harvard, 22-14, in front of 125 spectators.
In the last two meetings, McGill had blasted the Crimson. Not one of the three Harvard sides ("A","B" or "C") had come close to defeating McGill since 1984, and McGill last year smashed Harvard, 45-3, to keep the Cvo Cup in Canada.
"It was an excellent game," McGill Coach Duncan Myers said. "This game reestablished the rivalry. The last couple of years have been one-sided, and that's bad for any rivalry."
This year, Harvard (6-4 overall) held the explosive Canadians to 22 points, and the "B" and "C" sides each came through with victories, 12-6 and 12-10 respectively.
"This was another game we could have and should have won," Harvard Co-Captain Lanny Thorndike said. "But we had a couple of lapses in concentration."
The major lapse occurred in the game's first minute when McGill scored easily off a Crimson mistake to forge in front, 6-0.
Harvard utilized outstanding ballhandling from its backs and some tough inside play from its forward pack to almost upset the visitors.
Scrum-half Mike Gibbs was all over the field, directing the Harvard offense and playing a part in all three Harvard trys with good heads-up play.
Gibbs caught McGill off-guard by quickly picking up the ball after a McGill penalty. Gibbs ran to the weakside, drawing the bulk of the unset defense to him, and then passed the ball to Thorndike, who bounced off a tackler and dove into the corner for the try.
Seconds after fullback Jay Godsall scored for McGill, Thorndike retaliated with his second try of the day, with help this time from senior center Richard Butcher.
Butcher faked out one defender, broke the tackle of another, and--after drawing the attention of more defenders--pitched the ball to the trailing Thorndike, who scampered in for the easy try.
"I got the glory of scoring twice," Thorndike said, "but the other guys, especially Mike and Butch, did all the work."
Canadian Provincial All-Star Jason Hall scored his second try of the game and converted a penalty kick to give McGill a 22-8 lcad.
Harvard closed the gap with 10 minutes remaining. McGill bobbled an up-and-under kick by Gibbs and Butcher burst through to snatch the ball from McGill, broke the tackles of four defenders, and scored the game's final points.
"It's always good to play McGill," Gibbs said. "It's rugby tradition, and always good rugby."
The Radcliffe rivalry with McGill is not as historical--the series began in 1981. The Black and White (4-3 overall) triumphed, 22-0, Saturday at Soldiers Field, led by Gillian Caldwell two scores. The "B"-side fell, 4-0.
"We played a really good game,' Co-Captain Valerie Bogdan said. "It was our first home game, and we're very happy."