On Saturday, November 4, the Haverford Angry Young Newts men’s rugby team defeated Moravian College 21-7 to claim the title of champions of the NSCRO (National Small College Rugby Organization) Division of the MARC (Mid-Atlantic Rugby Conference). The Newts were undefeated this season, finishing with a 7-0 record.
The team was led to success by team captains Ricky Sanchez ‘18 (scrum-half), Mike Bueno ‘18 (flanker), Matt Jablonski ‘19 (number 8) and social captains Josiah Legaspi ‘18 (prop) and Mac Hutchison ‘18 (wing/scrum-half). In the championship game, tries were scored by Zach Broadman ‘20 (wing), Cesar Meric ‘20 (center) and Keiran Marrett-Hitch ’21 (center); Drew Evans ‘19 (fly-half, and one of the top scorers in the MARC) scored a penalty kick.
This is only the Newts’ second year competing in this league, which is a step up from the league they were previously a part of. Last year, the Newts finished their season with a 1-6 record.
The Angry Newts post for a team photo after capping their perfect season. Photo credits to the team. Edited by Kate Silber ’20.
When asked why the team was so successful this season, Ricky Sanchez ‘18 credited recruitment, the presence of a coach, and the team’s resilience and trust in one another. He said, “There were a lot of reasons we were good this year; one, we did a really good job recruiting: we got [seven] freshmen, and four of them were starters… and our coach has been really good. [In previous years], we coached ourselves: we had no mentor teaching us skills that actually reflected real gameplay.”
Sanchez added, “Although we’re a smaller team, we are in better shape than most teams and we don’t get tired very easily. We never give up — even when we’re down, even when we’re struggling — we still keep our heads up and listen to our coach. And, we trust each other now more than in recent years; we trust in our skills and each other’s abilities, because there’s a lot of talent on the team, the freshmen proved that.”
Drew Evans ‘19 agreed, saying that the difference between previous seasons and this one was, “Our coach, our defense, and our heart. We wanted it more than the other guys every time we stepped on the pitch.”
Sanchez described the championship game itself as “a defensive battle”, saying, “We played better defense, we played better rugby; we had guys coming off the bench for us [because of] injuries late in the game, but we still had the guys to fulfill the roles and keep the points up on the board.”
Evans added, “This was the culmination of weeks and weeks of hard work. For it to pay off as hugely as it did made it all worthwhile. It was great to win one for our seniors.” There are many four-year players who have given a lot to the team, and finally got to see their hard work pay off.
Another reason for the Newts’ success is their dedication, off the field, to one another and their team. When asked why he likes being on the team, Mac Hutchinson ‘18 responded simply, “The team. [Both] the individual guys, and the culture. No one takes themselves too seriously.”
On how the team is feeling going into next season, Josiah Legaspi ‘18 commented, “Teams are definitely aware of us — going into next season we’ll be the team to beat — so the young ones on the team will have to step up and take control.”
The Newts’ accomplishment reflects the hard work and dedication which go into club sports at Haverford. While there may be inequalities between club and varsity sports in terms of the resources and recognition they each receive from the school, there is no difference with respect to the passion and commitment of the players.