It has very recently become a Harvard tradition that the only thing to do during spring vacation is to vacation in the Caribbean. The sun and games of the once underdeveloped islands are apparently all that one needs to recover from the shock of hour exams and papers.
In compliance with the dictates of tradition, the Harvard Rugby Club is joining the rest of Harvard in Bermuda this year, and they too are going there for sun and games. Unfortunately, Bermuda will not be restful, but will involve a solid week of "spring training" which Harvard teams have never been able to negotiate in the local dust bowl known as Briggs Cage.
To make the trip, the Rugby Club has had to scrape the bottom of their hopelessly bare financial barrel. Receiving no aid from the University besides clean towels and underwear, the ruggers are paying two-thirds of their expenses out of their own pockets, and are relying for the final third on rather scanty contributions from various and previously uncontacted alumni.
Nevertheless, a full traveling squad of 21 players will make the trip, which begins Sunday, March 31. Four games have been scheduled for the team--games with some surprisingly efficient amateur clubs.
Ruggers Play Navy, Barbarians
On the Sunday they arrive, the ruggers will play the Bermuda Athletic Association, which has been playing rugby for years. With one day's rest between games, they will then play the Police Athletic Club (a team which trounced a similar Harvard aggregation several years ago), a rather anomalous group called The Barbarians, and a team representing either the British or the Canadian navy.
When Harvard made this trip four years ago, they emerged with a record of one win and two losses, and team captain Jon von Schalkwyk hopes for little more than that this year. As usual, the club must train backs who have never played rugby before, and this year the spring trip will be the first competition for at least three backs.
Compounding their problems, the ruggers will be forced to travel without three of their best backs, including veteran Ian Paisley-Tyler, a standout of the past several years.
Yet as is typical of the pleasantly nonchalant attitude of rugby players everywhere, the team cares little about their record and very much about having fun when they play. The feature of this spring's season will be the New York Rugby Club's annual beer drinking contest sometime in April.
If the team can win this, their toughest match, they may go through the season undefeated. As usual, the Club's strongest competition will be Dartmouth and the New York Rugby Club, teams which approach the sport much more seriously than does the Crimson.
Apparently, however, Harvard is beginning to be a little more serious than it has been before. The team has been able to field at least 30 players for practice since they began a month ago. Bolstered by a flock of football linemen, including first-string tackle Ed Smith and second-stringers Jeff Pochop and Gene Skowronski, the scrum is perhaps one of the strongest in the East.
Hopefully, despite their intensive training plans, the Rugby Club will stop being serious long enough during their trip to practice their beer drinking as well. Judging from past performance, as sportswriters are prone to say, they will manage.
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