October 5, 2022

Yale, Harvard Renew Rivalry on Friday Night Rugby

While last week’s debut of Friday Night Rugby featured one of the most intense rivalries the college game has to offer, this week the spotlight turns to maybe the most historic, with Yale and Harvard facing off under the lights in New Haven, Connecticut.

Named for legendary Yale coach Malcolm Cormack, Harvard and Yale now compete for the Cormack Cup. The first rugby match between these famous foes took place in 1875, with famed alumni like the inventor of American football, Walter Camp, two Kennedys, George Bush and countless other elected officials and captains of industry packing down on either side of the rivalry.

Yale enters the contest ranked 19th in DI-AA, sitting at 2-2 in the Liberty Conference in their first year in the league. With the Ivy dissolving as a conference, Yale, Harvard and most of their cohorts migrated to the Liberty. Yale head coach Craig Wilson expressed his excitement at the competitiveness of the new league, with five of the six teams sitting within six points of each other in the standings.

Harvard enters this matchup 1-3, and despite the losing record, Coach Anthony Adam is confident his team can come away with a victory. COVID took a toll on the program, but Adam said the club is beginning to rediscover its identity under the current leadership, as it has been re-energized by a young, enthusiastic squad ready to learn.

Conversely, Yale is led by a strong senior class, including prop Drew Ward and inside center Henry Large. Wilson described Ward’s scrummaging, carrying ability and work rate as key components of Yale’s game. The Bulldogs will look for Ward to gain meters this weekend, and captain Henry Large has always performed consistently on both sides of the ball. They’ll also look for sophomore Aidan Stretch, who can play outside center or fullback, to attack on the wings.

Harvard’s All-American captain Ryan Santos will be leading the Crimson from flyhalf. His great passing ability and game awareness will be on display this Friday, in addition to his considerable size for the position, clocking in at 6’5” and 228 pounds. Gavin Prentice is an imposing prop with some Major League Rugby training experience with the Seattle Seawolves, and his strong scrummaging and efforts around the breakdown will make him a handful for the Bulldog pack.


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