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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
If you crossed the Weeks Bridge heading towards the B-School Saturday afternoon, what you saw occurring on the very doorstep of Kresge Hall was definitely not a Radcliffe Junior Parents' Day picnic.
The beer keg on the back of the Chevy Blazer may have tipped you off, as well as the bloodthirsty crowd, but the real clincher was the 30 bloody, sweaty guys in shorts battling violently for some kind of ball. There was no tea in sight. Or crumpets either.
What you did see was the Harvard Rugby Club battling their blue-striped visitors from Columbia in three separate games in their first official match of the spring season.
The day's activities began with the B game, a lopsided affair in which the Crimson triumphed by a score of 12-0. Jim Skinner provided the only four-point "try" (running, kicking or bulldozing the ball past the goal line and touching it to the ground in the end zone) of the game, and Dave Albala kicked the conversion for two more. Two successful penalty kicks by Albala added six more points and closed out the scoring for the match.
Next on the agenda was the A game, the premier event of the day, which saw the Harvard ruggers drop a tough one to the big-city roughs, 12-11.
Richie Sherman opened the scoring in the first half, taking a pass near the goal line from Jim Durham, who had made a sterling 40-yard run, putting the Crimson up 4-0. All agreed it was "nicely done." Durham then missed the conversion kick, an event of great consequence, as Harvard was to realize later.
The Crimson scored again quickly as Lou Marczuk broke through the Columbia squad after a line-out near the Columbia goal and stripped the ball from an unsuspecting Lion. Joe Piesman then pounced upon the errant spheroid to score a try and put Harvard ahead 8-0. But again, Durham missed the conversion.
Near the end of the half Columbia brought the score to 8-6 as a hulking Lion front-liner bulled over the goal for a try, with Harvard's Mark Hefner hanging on the Lions' back in vain. And the conversion kick was good for two points.
In the second half the lack of practice began to catch up on the Crimson. "We got tired and lost control of the scrum," Marczuk said. Columbia began to push the ruggers backwards, keeping the play in the Harvard end of the field.
But the Crimson kept its lead as Peter Hilton put a 35-yard penalty kick clean through the uprights, to make it 11-8.
However, the missed conversions of the first half were not to be forgotten. Columbia again bulldozed over for a try and the successful conversion put them ahead 12-11 and sent the Crimson home losers.
In the final game, the Crimson players lost 12-0 but the play of newcomer Sid Smith at wing and the reappearance of veteran Sal Diagostino after a layoff provided reason for optimism.
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