Tour Diary-Living with the Bulldogs

Tour Diary

Day 1

March 17, 2016

For most of the squad, our day started with a riveting 5 a.m. wake up to catch the first of a string of flights that would eventually lead us to Bermuda. For me, this took the form of a cold, chilly car ride at 4:30 to MSP (the Minneapolis airport), a sleepy flight to Atlanta, then a quick jet over from Atlanta to the beautiful Bermuda airport where our trip began. During my layover time in Atlanta, I hung out with Will Roberts, Xavier Westegaard, and Phil Vorester who were all on my flight to Bermuda, and while we ate delicious Chick-Fil-A we discussed all pressing matters of the Rugby team: Whether Nick Silva’s flat passes could get any crisper, whether Jacob Woocher’s chest hair could be more luscious, and how we could help Nate Hogg elevate his camera skills to the next level for the trip. Right as we were finishing up we heard the final boarding call for our flight, and, realizing we were about to miss our flight made a mad scramble for our gate before they shut the boarding doors. Safely on the plane, we kicked back, relaxed, and enjoyed all of the timeless classics that Delta Entertainment had to offer (my personal favorite was “Sharknado”). 

Our plane touched down around 2:45 p.m, and at the airport we perused the tropically themed stores, talked with a Westchester high school team that was also coming for the tournament, and met up with a few other members of the Yale squad until our transportation, the “Bermuda Bus”, arrived. We piled our luggage into a smaller van, climbed into the bus, and enjoyed our scenic ride to the Barracks while our driver played some bumping remixes. Once we arrived at the Barracks, we unpacked our luggage, set up our bunks, and made a quick run to Horseshoe Beach. At 5 p.m. we regrouped as a squad, got in a quick practice to get ourselves ready for the tournament, and ate dinner as a group in the military dining hall. Afterwards we got to listen to Jon Layfield, who runs a rugby organization for disadvantaged youths on the island, and who talked to us about the huge impact his organization was having on graduation rates for native youth, on reducing gang violence, and on healing wounds and bridging longstanding gaps between different ethnic and social groups among the local kids. I think I speak for the whole team when I say his remarks were very moving in the way he was able to communicate not only the positive impact that Rugby can have on a community, but how Rugby can bring together groups of people and improve lives in a way that almost no other program can. 

We ended our night with some rest and relaxation, and woke up early for a hearty breakfast and another quick pitch session before our upcoming games at 4.00pm this evening. 

Day 2

March 18, 2016

After taking a quick refreshing power nap from 10am-2:30pm, our squad got loosened up, hopped on another bus with awesome EDM beats, and started mentally preparing for a great day of rugby. We arrived at the complex around 2:30pm, and dropped our gear under the tournament tent and began a quick warmup for the upcoming games. Yale I faced off against Dartmouth II, and defeated them handily 19 - 5. Shell-shocked Dartmouth players could be found afterwards muttering about a man known as “The Wooch” whose ability to break around the corner was outpaced only by the growth rate of his otherworldly mustache. The Yale II side, while not faring as well on the scoreboard, won an equally important victory when they received some incredible development under fire facing off against the Bermuda national team (rumor has it the score sheet never made it to the tournament director. Joe Goode was seen dragging a large burlap sack into a dark alley 5 minutes after the game ended). The Second game saw Yale I lose to Kutztown in a high scoring shootout, and the Second Side take another loss to Notre Dame College from Cleveland, who spent most of the game attempting to convince the Yale players they were not the less successful little brothers of Notre Dame University. The last game saw Yale I defeat Boston College, with two late game tries to pull ahead of their opponents scored by John Donovan and Seth Massey. The Yale II side took a last minute loss to St. Joseph’s. A huge positive of the Second Side game was Phil Vorester absolutely toasting a rather large St. Joe’s player on the outside, whose feeble attempt to stop Phil ended with him flopping helplessly on the ground. 

Overall, Yale I advance to the winner’s bracket, competing tomorrow in the cup quarter finals, while the Yale II were ready to compete in the Shield Semi Finals. Yale I finished the day ranked number 6. Not bad for a team that was ranked 14 before the competition started. 

Day 3

March 19, 2016

Day 3 was another stellar day for Yale Rugby. We woke up early to grab breakfast before the entire base full of large hungry men descended on the dining hall, and then relaxed and napped for a few hours before catching another rockin’ bus back to the facility. Once there we hung out for 10 minutes, got dressed, and began warming up for our first matchups of the day. Yale II started the day with a game against Dartmouth II, and though we fought hard, we eventually fell to the Dartmouth 6 tries to none. Our offense as producing a lot of well executed runs, but Dartmouth were too physical in the end. Yale I faced off against Dartmouth I directly after the Second’s game, and unfortunately were not able to overcome Dartmouth’s strong tactics and crisp ball movement, eventually falling 5 tries to none. 

Yale II played their best game of the day against Norwich University in their second game, and took another loss to the very chunky chaps from Vermont. Yale I faced Boston RFC, and though it was a close game the Firsts’ loss on a last minute try from Boston. The last game for the Yale II was against St. Joe’s, and again took a loss when we were overpowered by the size of the opponents. Yale I finished by playing Columbia II and ran train on them, winning 5 tries to 1 with two tries from Seth Massey on the right wing. Though both teams were hoping to do better, everyone felt that we gained a lot of valuable experience and are much better prepared to compete in the Ivy Conference come spring and next fall. The day ended with a team dinner at a great seafood restaurant, and was a good opportunity for the squad to evaluate what we hoped to accomplish both in the rest of tour, and in the upcoming season. 

Tomorrow is a rest day…….trust me, there are many tired bodies. Back to squad training on Monday.

Day 4

March 20, 2016

Today was a day full of rest and relaxation. After getting up around 10 or 11 am, the fellas sauntered down to the beach for a day of fun in the sun. Nate Hogg showcased his dexterity by climbing large rocks and finding great cliff jumping spots, and Nick Silva and Phil Vorester were close behind to enjoy all Bermuda Beaches have to offer. The Seniors hung out on the beach, listened to music and played a couple of friendly games of touch, while Josh Racine and I were top quality photographers for the whole experience. The day ended with a good dinner courtesy of the military base, and a team hangout in the common room playing pool and poker. Derek Ficenec took the win in poker, and there were some bloody battles in pool that saw people’s pride (specifically Josh Racine’s pride) crushed repeatedly. Overall it was a great way for the team to bond, rest our bodies after two upbeat days of rugby, and prepare ourselves for the last leg of tour tomorrow. Special shout out to Shane Kim for all he has done a Tour Manager organizing events, and ensuring everyone on the team is having an amazing, formative experience. 

Day 5

March 21, 2016

Today was a really awesome day for the squad in terms of coming together as a unit. We began our day with an early breakfast, and headed over to the Bermuda Regiment Combat Assault Course at 9 am for some fun team bonding. We broke up into groups of four, and raced each other to see who could complete the obstacle course fastest. The course consisted of a variety of different obstacles, each of which required the ability to climb, balance, swing, and crawl through varies contraptions that required the support of your team to complete. My personal favorite was the first obstacle, which was a 20ft wall that teams had to climb together, followed by a huge net that was angled towards the ground which required you to roll all the way down until you reached the bottom. A couple of the guys on the team are very afraid of heights, and it was great to see teams come together and help each other overcome the fears. The winning team ended up being John Donovan’s squad, but the team winning in spirit was given to Nick Silva’s team, primarily for Silva’s graceful ability to waltz through the obstacle course as if he were a forest fairy dancing through a meadow. 

    After completing the course, the team worked on defensive shape in the parking lot for about an hour, then relaxed for the rest of the day before enjoying the last night on tour in the Corporal’s mess playing pool and poker. 

Day 6

March 22, 2016

The last day of tour was equal parts enjoyable and sad. While it had been a great tour, and the lads were happy to spend the last moments of it together hanging out in the airport, it was sad to think that it had finally come to a close and that in but a few hours we would have to part ways. In classic tour fashion, the bus that arrived to take us to the airport at 10am ended up overheating and dying halfway through the journey, but Shane Kim was able to organize another bus to pick us up within 5 minutes, and get us to the airport on time so that no one missed their flights. Again Shane was there to bail us out when things broke down, so another shoutout to him for being an amazing tour manager and making sure things were running smoothly even when he faced unexpected difficulties at the last minute. 

 

Once we arrived to the airport, we rushed through security and customs, and enjoyed a last meal together as a squad at a small café in the terminal. Good laughs were shared all around, stories told of the shenanigans guys had gotten up to, and one by one we boarded our flights bound for different places until it was just me, Hank, Phil K and Ian left in Bermuda. We ended our tour day each telling our favorite story of tour, and exaggerating all of our rugby accomplishments in the tournament before we each boarded our planes headed to our final destination. It was a truly great tour, I can’t give enough thanks to everyone who made it possible, from alumni, to Greg Mike, Emil and Sarah, to the player leadership, to every player who showed up and tried their hardest so that Yale Rugby can improve and keep getting better every year. Every person was an integral part of making the experience as incredible as it was, and can’t wait to be back at it again this spring for another competitive season, and another chance to prove Yale Rugby will continue to rise on the national radar.