The Chicago Booth Rugby Club recorded a best-ever finish in the MBA Rugby World Cup hosted by Duke on April 9-10 in Danville, Virginia. After initially losing close matches in the pool phase against HBS and University College Dublin, the team bounced back to defeat Duke 24-10 and secured the club’s place in the top 50% of entrants in the tournament for the first time in Chicago Booth’s history. The team started elimination play strong by defeating Tuck 19-7, but lost 13-10 in a scrappy rematch with University College Dublin. Chicago Booth recorded the 4th best performance by an American team and came in 7th out of 16 total clubs. On-field highlights include 2nd year center David Tune breaking 7 tackles on his way to a 40 meter run; a full-team goal line defensive stand to deny Duke a score despite 17 straight runs at the try zone by their opponents; and ironman 2nd year Brad Hemmick playing every minute of every game. Tries were scored by James Jenkins, Pete Estridge, Marland Hobbs, David Liu, Ernesto Santiago, Jimmy Goodwin, and Isaac Song, with Dan O’Brien kicking penalties and conversions.
The team’s performance represents a big step forward for the club, and is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that Booth’s rugby team has only been in existence since 2013. Booth Rugby has shown consistent progress in recent seasons, with this year’s finish being an improvement over last year’s winning of the “Plunger Trophy” — which one can find prominently displayed in the Harper Study Lounge right next to the Nobel Laureates. “Booth’s never seen a team like this,” says alumnus and former team captain Dan Cavanaugh ‘15. “None of the opponents that we played were expecting to see a [Booth] team this strong. I'm proud to see that momentum and it’s great to see our club cement itself as a team to be feared. MBA rugby has a very strong history – some clubs have been active for almost fifty years – and I'm more excited than ever about the future of Booth Rugby.”
The 2015-16 team has worked hard to advance the club’s skill and reputation, beginning with a recruiting effort focused on engaging students who had never played the sport before. “It’s great to have a core of a few experienced players,” says outgoing co-chair and token Englishman James Jenkins, “but here in the colonies the sport just hasn’t reached that status in terms of popularity. The majority of our players started the year with no experience. With two tournaments under our belt, however, we’re really starting to click.” The team’s last game of the season will be an away match versus Kellogg on May 21st, with buses available to take fans directly to the field from the Loop neighborhood. Booth Rugby is looking forward to capitalizing on the momentum of their World Cup performance and sending the graduating 2nd years off with a big win against their crosstown rivals.
Pete Estridge is a first-year student at Chicago Booth. He wants to build a wall around Evanston and make Kellogg pay for it.