The Wharthogs men’s rugby team fought through mud and blood this past weekend, thrashing teams from Columbia, Yale and Cornell to win the annual Hogfest Trophy in a promising start to the season.
Five first-time try scorers tore up the hometown turf to earn “Zulu Warrior” status at the tourney, hosted by the Wharton Rugby Football Club in Philadelphia and the first of three major tournaments planned for the squad for this year.
The first day of play started with the Wharton Blue team bowling over Widener 38-0, with a converted try by Juan “The Matador” Gonzalez opening the scoring. Shortly thereafter, Bobby “I go to Haaarvaaard” Grajewski crossed the line twice, each time leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. The Twitter feed acknowledged “his ego wont fit in Huntsman anymore”. Newcomers Chris Hogg and John Daly also scored their first tries for the Club, earning their status as Zulu Warriors – yes, John, we haven’t forgotten.
In the second game, Wharton Red went down 7-22 to a combined Yale graduate school team. It was a spirited match, with great leadership by 1st year Neil Menzies, who also earned his Zulu status. Fellow 1st years Carter Leggett and Jeremy Cook punished the Yale back line with crushing tackles and hard running.
Wharton Blue’s next game against Cornell was a tough slog, with the Hogs eventually coming out on top 17-3, thanks to tries from Joe Rosen, Juan, and Bobby. Play closed with Wharton Red narrowly losing to Columbia Medical School and NYU forfeiting to Wharton Blue.
Day two started with a cracking contest between Wharton Red and Columbia Business School. At the half, Wharton Red trailed 17-0, but came out of the break with renewed intensity and punishing defense by Doug Holm and Daniel Smith to hold Columbia scoreless in the second half. Red finished down 17-5, but played one of the most inspirational games of the weekend.
In the knockout stages of the tournament, Wharton faced off against Yale. 2nd year Randall “Thunder” Drain flew through the defense to open the scoring for Wharton. He was soon followed by the Matador with two more tries. Former WRFC President John JR Roberts made a special alumni guest appearance to add another 5 points, and 1st year Ben Pittard scored to earn his Zulu status, finishing Yale’s hopes of a last minute comeback. Ben’s try was the result of brilliant piece of work from 2nd year Jonathon Nipper, who managed to hang on to a slippery ball in tough conditions, draw a defender and then throw a perfect pass to Pittard. Fernando “Tornado” Gomes nailed two difficult conversions to contribute 4 points to the 38-0 victory.
Wharton Blue was matched in the final against Columbia Business School, whose team was reinforced by a few handpicked heavy hitters from Cornell. As the rain poured down, the men of Wharton put up a dogged defense, repeatedly repelling Columbia’s attacks. Pushed back against their own line for much of the game, Hog forwards Greg Doyle and Jeff Galletly reveled in the muddy conditions and methodically ground down the Columbia pack, creating space for fleet-footed backs, Joe Rosen and Matt Dunnigan, to go in for tries. 2nd year Mike “Models and Bottles” Meng’s great handling and surprising speed constantly kept the opposition off guard. In the toughest game of the tournament, Wharton triumphed 12-0 to retain the Hogfest Trophy. And yes, Matt, your Zulu is on its way.
Thanks are due to 2nd years Greg Doyle and Jonathon Nipper who pulled the whole event together, and to the partners who put up with all the mud, blood, sweat, and pain to support us to victory.
For all those readers who are not sure what a Zulu Warrior is, want to see the Matador dispatch a bull, or are wondering what happens when Davian Bryan gets angry, come out and support the Hogs at their next local game!