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Rugby: Eighties vs. The World!

By Chris Lydgate '90 on June 15, 2011 11:50 AM

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Brandon Hamilton '11

It's an ancient debate--are youth and speed a match for age and guile? At Centennial Reunions, Reedies traded eye goggles for mouth guards and lab coats for cleats to settle the question on the pitch as alumni from the eighties (the "First Fifteen") faced off against younger grads for a little post-thesis physics experiment.

In addition to their heft, their zest, and their savagery, the First Fifteen were notable for their uniforms, designed by Matt Giraud '85. The jerseys sported the unforgettable face of TV huckster Tom Peterson on the sleeves and 1980s infamous dean (and scrounge opponent) Paula Rooney on the rear. The team's faux sponsors, a nod to fond nights long gone, included the late-lamented Lutz Tavern and eternal hot-date destination Powell's Books.

The First Fifteen matched the newer grads goal for goal in the contest, but tipped the scales with two conversions by Benn Lewis '84 and Wayne Bennett '93, yielding a final score of 14-10 in favor of Olde Reed. This triumph left the Eighties veterans giddy enough to challenge the young hatchlings to a second game.

Intimidating apparel wasn't enough to break through New Reed's defense in the second game, however, and with a bit of team reshuffling, youth returned with a vengeance. Wayne switched sides and led the relative rookies to a major yard gain in the first half that helped the team to the second of its five tries.

The glorious run wasn't without its costs. If experience was flagging on the field, it was alive and strong on the sidelines.

"One more like that and your dog gets it," came the shout from the older-skewing crowd amid boos and cries of "traitor!"

But the rookies were just warming up. Ryan Cook '09 broke away from defenders down field for two tries, the second of which prompted a graying alumnus to run onto the field from the sidelines, libation in hand, to attempt a last-minute tackle. Lamenting the loss of sloshed beer from his unsuccessful intervention, the player (who will remain nameless) headed gladly back to the keg. The new players redeemed themselves with a final score of 27-0.

"'Heroic debauchery' is a phrase I've used to describe rugby," said Grant Raddon '92 as players cleared the pitch for the post-game drink-up, "We've been heroic, and now we're moving to debauchery!"