Ruggers Finish Second In the N.E. Invitational

The Harvard rugby club went into the New England Invitational Tournament last weekend with a chip on its shoulder and dared its opponents to knock it off.

"It was almost a revenge weekend for us," senior Richard Butcher said. "We had a beef against every team we played."

And Harvard cut into Northeastern, Yale and UMass faster than a butcher in a meat shop.

But in the finals the Crimson ran into Southern Connecticut, a team carrying a similar chip on its shoulder after losing to Harvard in the Vermont Tournament last fall.

Connecticut scored with only two minutes remaining to escape with an 11-9 victory in the finals of the New England Invitational Tournament.

The Crimson was pleased with its performance, although disappointed with the outcome.

"It would have been nice to win the whole thing," Lanny Thorndike said. "We're happy to make it to the finals, but it sucks to lose to a team we beat in the fall."

After falling behind, 7-0, early on, the Crimson stormed back with nine consecutive points. Nathan Koenig converted a penalty kick and Thorndike scored a try at the end of the first half.

But in the second half, going into the wind, the Crimson's offense stalled. Connecticut spent most of the second half on Harvard's end of the field.

Finally, with two minutes remaining, Connecticut's fullback ran around the right side. He got hit by several Harvard ruggers, but he struggled across the try line and touched the ball down for the winning score.

"We're feeling a little disappointed right now," Butcher said. "We should be able to hold our heads up. We had a great weekend."

Butcher in particular had a great weekend. He scored a try in the Crimson's 22-0 blasting of Northeastern Saturday, then followed with three creative trys in the 19-6 victory over UMass.

"He had this method," teammate Mike Gibbs said. "He would kick the ball over their heads, then run past them, grab the ball and score."

Butcher did this twice, scoring on two 50-yard runs.

"On the first one," said Gibbs, "UMass was just dumbfounded. On the second one, they just couldn't do anything about it."

Thorndike, Scott Helenski and prop Jon Diorio added trys against Northeastern Saturday. Junior Chris Liles added a penalty kick to close out the scoring.

The Northeastern shutout was particularly sweet for Harvard. The Bulldogs had defeated the Crimson in the first round of the New England Championships last fall.