Eighteen University students returned from Bermuda last week convinced that the Bermuda Rugby Week Committee had given them a neat-perfect week's vacation. The only regret expressed by the rugby team, other than having to return to classes, was that Harvard had been unable to put up a better showing for the Bermudians, as far as "games won" were concerned.
Added to the hospitality of the Rugby Week Committee, headed by Stanley Gascoigne and Stuart Outerbridge, was that of the British Army, for the Harvard team was quartered at the Royal Army's Prospect Officers Mess while on the island. Most of the British personnel, including the famous Gloucestershire Regiment, were down at British Honduras where they were putting down a native insurrection in true Kipling style. The remaining Britishers, however, seemed quite delighted to allow the Harvard team to take over their mess facilities for breakfasts, and to have free rein around the camp. They also provided a cheering section for the Crimson team in the games against Yale and Princeton.
As an experiment in international relations, the H-Y-P teams and their Bermudan opponents played amazingly friendly games of rugby, even if American techniques, influenced by football, were occasionally unorthodox for the Britishers. American players tend to carry the ball as in football most of the time, instead of dribbling it with the feet, often the customary English method of advancing the ball down the field. Usually the Crimson players, if they heard the spectators crying "at your feet, Harvard," paid no attention whatsoever and kept on running and twisting with the ball. In the case of Paul Lazzaro's 50-yard dash to the goal-line in the Princeton game, however, the British advice was unnecessary if not wrong.
Where Harvard's difficulty lay might seem hard to diagnose after a first quick-look at the scores. The Crimson lost all four games, under varying circumstances, by 9 to 3 against the Bermuda Athletic Association, by 14 to 8 and 13 to 0 at the hands of Princeton and Yale, and finally last Sunday they went down before another B.A.A. team by 13 to 0 again.
Harvard looked good in their first game. The Crimson forwards pushed the B.A.A. scrum all over the muddy field, but despite the fact that the American term was consistently gaining possession of the ball in the scrummages, Bermuda took advantage of the breaks, and perhaps won by their better knowledge of the game alone. Most of the Harvard players felt afterward that they might easily have won, and they looked forward in great anticipation to walloping Princeton two days hence.
From the very outset the Princeton game was a flasco: In the first place, an 80 minute game instead of the usual 60 minute contest was played. This was quite legal, for in rugby the game may vary, with anywhere from 25 to 40 minute halves. At the end of 60 minutes of play, the score read 8-all; in the next 20 minutes the Crimson defense collapsed. The heavy Tiger scrum lorded over the Harvard forwards.
But injuries spelled the real cause of defeat. Within five minutes after the game opened, Joe Eaton, in blocking a punt, caught a Princeton kicker's foot squarely in his stomach. Although he came back to play in the second half, he was in poor shape, and that night was taken to the Royal Army hospital for treatment. A few minutes after Eaton was carried off the field, Hunt Mauran had his jaw broken, but he played out the remainder of the first half. Only that evening did an x-ray show the break, and the Harvard squad found itself minus two of its best running backs.
Mauran accounted for a conversion kick before he left the game. Princeton broke the usual rugby rules by allowing Harvard to substitute a player at the beginning of the second half in place of Mauran. Coach Jim Nuland came into the game, and soon accounted for another three points by a penalty kick for goal to raise the score to 8-all. It was only then that the Harvard injuries were felt. The forwards were worn out from being pushed back by the Nassau scrum, and the backfield minus Eaton and Mauran could hardly keep up with the Princeton team's running attack. A dejected Harvard team left the field with the score at 14 to 8.
The Yale game was a similar story. Because of the injured players, Harvard has to introduce Al key and Fred Gwynne as ringers and neither had ever played previously. Injuries were held down to a minimum, but the battered Harvard team, no matter how hard they fought, were no match for the heavier Yale squad, fresh from the States. And finally on Sunday there was a repetition at the hands of the B.A.A., with Harvard losing her last two games by the same score, 13 to 0.
Tiger Claws Bulldog
The second half of Sunday's bill was the playoff between Princeton and Yale for the intercollegiate cup, offered by the Bermuda Trade Development Board. Yale was the favorite, and most of the Harvard team who stayed around to watch the second game, were gratified to see the Bulldog take an unexpected pounding. Princeton fought for every minute, and her little scrum-half, John Cotter from Chile, put in the best performance of any of the visiting college players. Although Yale rallied considerably in the second half, Princeton finally conquered by 6 to 4 to win the championship.
By on means was all of the week devoted to rugby. A series of parties and invitations kept all three teams players occupied. Bermuda was practically covered with visiting college girls, and with the exception of a few visiting tennis players, the rugby teams were almost solo contenders on a field where they were greatly outnumbered by the women. Although Yale and Princeton might have claimed the initial advantage by being quartered in Hamilton's Bermudiana Hotel, right in the midst of the visiting girls' college groups, Harvard players are convinced that their quarters at Prospect were superior, and several post-Yale-game parties out at the Harvard-British Officers Mess serve as confirmations to their claim