Penn Sports Plus: Men’s Rugby

This week, we sat down with Doug Swift, an England native, and president of the Penn men’s rugby team, who discussed recent successes and the future of the fiercely competitve club sport.

How did you get into rugby?

Swift: So, I’ve been playing rugby since I was five, back in England. I played throughout Lower School, Middle School, and High School. After a gap year, when I realized I was going to come to America, I scouted out some of the schools I was applying to and it was an absolute bonus that Penn had a great program.

Being from England, most of the players that try rugby out in the States are football players or ex-football players. How do their skills translate in the game of Rugby?

Swift: There are certainly skills that do transfer over. But, you'd be surprised Americans are kind of wimpy. The tackle technique is more different than people give it credit for, and the fact that we don’t wear pads means that there is some adjustment. However, especially defensively the skills do transfer over.

So, you guys just played Brown this past weekend. What does your club look to do playing teams like Brown, Cornell, and Dartmouth who are more active in recruiting players?

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W. Soccer: Fate to be pulled out of a hat?

With just two weeks remaining in the Ivy League women's soccer schedule, three teams are in the hunt for an Ivy title, which has stimulated discussion about how a potential three-way tie between the top teams for first place might shake out. Of course, not only is an Ivy League championship on the line, but also an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

So here's the scenario: if Dartmouth and Penn win out, including the Quakers taking out Princeton on the road on Nov. 3, and Princeton doesn't get upset by Cornell this weekend, then all three teams would finish the season 6-1. Looking at head-to-head wins can't be used to break the tie, since Princeton beat Dartmouth, Dartmouth beat Penn and Penn will have defeated Princeton.

What, then, will decide the fate of the Ivy title and the tourney bid? Well, the championship will simply be shared by all three teams. There is some historical precedence for this — in fact, the same three teams shared the title in 2001, oddly enough.

The NCAA tournament bid, however, is an entirely different story. After a season of hard fought matches and competitive games, the Ivy League would decide which team represents the conference in the NCAA tournament by, drumroll please, pulling a team's name out of a hat.

No, that is not a joke. According to Trevor Rutledge-Leverenz, a representative from the Ivy League, Executive Director Robin Harris would draw a team's name out of a hat to determine which squad receives the tournament bid.

If it's any consolation (though I'm not sure it would be to the other two teams), Rutledge-Leverenz added that the name-drawing would be broadcasted live online.

Let us know what you think about the Ivy League's tie-breaking process in the comments below. We will provide updates on this story as they come in.

Liveblog: Penn football at Dartmouth

The Quakers kick off the Ivy season against the Big Green in Hanover, N.H. It should be a close game, as each matchup between these teams in the past three seasons has come down to the final possession. Follow all the action here:

Three Up, Three Down: The Dartmouth Edition

We're excited to have a new segment on The Buzz called Three Up, Three Down, in which we predict three players whose stock will rise and fall over the course of upcoming games.

Look for the following threesome to be thriving after Penn's Ivy opener at Dartmouth on Saturday:

Three Up —

Billy Ragone: Quite simply, this is Ragone’s time. He found his groove in Dartmouth’s backyard last year after a slow start, and it would be no coincidence if he were to do it again Saturday. The Big Green ranked dead last in the Ivy League in rushing defense a year ago, and they can be expected to once again set Ragone up to tuck and run. That usually translates into a more confident aerial attack from him.

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Liveblog: Penn at Dartmouth — Brought to you by the Blarney Stone

With only five games left on the season, the Quakers (15-11, 7-2 Ivy) still control their own destiny. If the Red and Blue hope to capture their first Ivy League title since 2006-07, they'll need to take care of Dartmouth (5-21, 1-9). The Big Green nearly upset Penn at the Palestra two weeks ago — it took a last-minute three by Zack Rosen for Penn to get the win.

Dartmouth post-game presser: Jerome Allen & Zack Rosen

Jerome Allen and Zack Rosen speak to the media following Penn's 58-55 win over Dartmouth. Despite the win, Allen was extremely displeased with the Quakers' performance, as was Rosen.

Game 24: Dartmouth – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

After falling to Harvard last night, Penn was able to take the win against Dartmouth, 58-55, at the Palestra. The Quakers led by five at halftime, but they were unable to keep up the momentum in the second half, during which they were outscored, 33-31, including a 9-0 run by Dartmouth. In the end, though, the Red and Blue were still able to come away with the win.

THE GOOD: Penn is back in control of its own fate. It took a last-minute, long-range three by Rosen to call the game, but the Quakers still were able to up the number in the win column. After the unexpected Princeton victory over no-longer-undefeated Harvard, Penn is back in the fight for the Ivy title.

THE BAD: Penn has a lot of work to do. Coming into the game, the Red and Blue looked to have an easy win against a less-than average Dartmouth team. Early in the second half, they were up by 15, but the Quakers barely made it out of the game with a ‘W’ after being outmatched later in the half.  Penn cannot play as it did tonight if the team wants to continue to win its remaining games, especially against Yale and Harvard.

THE UGLY: Fouling. Foul shots really made this matchup the close game that it was. Dartmouth scored 19 of its points on 23 free throws. Marin Kukoc fouled out in the last minute of the game and both Henry Brooks and Miles Cartwright racked up the fouls on Penn, with four and three respectively. The Big Green’s Jvonte Brooks, who was the game’s top scorer, made 12 of his 18 total points at the line.

Liveblog: Penn basketball vs. Dartmouth – Brought to you by the Blarney Stone

Following a disappointing 56-50 loss to No. 25 Harvard, the Quakers (12-11, 4-2 Ivy) look to bounce back against last-place Dartmouth (4-19, 0-7). The Big Green have not won a game since Jan. 14 and are losers of 12 of their last 13. Last season, Penn swept Dartmouth, a feat the Red and Blue have accomplished in 14 of the last 15 seasons.

Guest blog: Sunday with Mr. Blackmon

Editor's note: Sometimes, the Saturday Roundtable isn't enough. So to add a little more to your weekend, The Buzz would like to formally introduce Mr. Bradford Blackmon, Penn football 2011 alumni, as a contributing writer to our blog. Bradford will offer his analysis of Quakers' football games, with the occasional dabble in our Saturday roundtable. He fittingly joins us with his take on the first Ivy game of the season in the Red and Blue's quest for a three-peat. From our two-time All-Ivy Honorable Mention, all the way from law school at Ole Miss:

After two less-than-Penn-like performances, the Quakers looked to right the ship with the Ivy-opener at Dartmouth. Speaking with several players over the week, the consensus was that the team wasn't playing with enough energy and was just going through the motions.

They came out in the first quarter more fired up than the last two games combined. The defense looked like your typical Penn defense and was flying around making plays and, more importantly, letting everyone know they were making plays. There's nothing more demoralizing to a team than getting stopped and seeing how much fun your opponent is having while doing it.

With the early success the defense was having, the offense came out with just as much energy. They were continuously moving the ball but had to settle for field goals. Perhaps the weather played a role, but it was still encouraging to see the team come out with the energy they had been lacking in their first two outings.

As always with Dartmouth, both teams were fighting for every inch and the game came down to the wire. Penn showed what type of team they are capable of being by driving down the field with less than 2 minutes left and getting the go-ahead touchdown. They seemed to have recaptured the energy that has been missing and have overcome the sense of entitlement they had from being members of the two-time defending Ivy champs.

Two important observations I made from watching the game were about the aggression of the defense and the predictability of the offense. The defense has seemed to regain its form and was flying around in the controlled chaos that is a Penn defense — blitzing from all angles and making the offense go where the defense wants them to, the bend but never break mentality. The Penn offense, on the other hand, seems to be a bit predictable. Dartmouth loaded the box because they knew Penn would run the ball 70% of the time. The times Dartmouth had trouble with the Penn offense was on the 2-min. drill at the end of the first half and the end of the game when Penn drove down for the winning score. Opening up the offense makes Penn's running game — its bread and butter — that much more of a threat. Billy has proved he can throw the ball when necessary, now they just have to give him free reign to make plays.

Hopefully they can ride this momentum into next week's game and continue to return to make strides toward another championship run.

Game 3 — Dartmouth: The good, bad and ugly

GoodBadUgly
What a game in Hanover tonight, as Penn hustled 90 yards in the final five minutes to take a 22-20 victory out of Dartmouth's hands. And Dartmouth is footing the bill for the Quakers' victory flight back tonight after playing the first game under the lights at Memorial Field.

The Good: Billy Ragone and the the whole offensive unit was unbreakable under pressure this week. As mentioned, Ragone deftly led the Quakers 90 yards on their final possesion to the winning touchdown. Not only that — he threw two TD passes, as the first one to Ryan Mitchell was called back on a questionable holding call. Then receiver Joe Holder came up with a clutch 18-yard catch putting Penn at the 3-yard line with 22 seconds remaining, and Ryan Calvert caught the winning TD.

Ragone led a similar drive at the end of the first half. With the clock ticking down, Penn somehow got the special teams unit on the field and hiked the ball (all within 10 seconds), and Connor Loftus got off a 35-yard field goal. Which leads me to...

The Bad: Penn's place kicking was not in championship mode tonight. Perhaps some of it can be chalked up to the lousy conditions in New Hampshire tonight, but Loftus missed two FGs (one is listed as blocked on the stat-sheet), and his final PAT was blocked as well. Some of the blame rests on the shoulders of the linemen blocking for Loftus, but he needs to get a little more loft in his kicks.

The Ugly: The commercials on Fox College Sports tonight. From the repetitive Bosley hair restoration spots to the Miracle Slipper (you can drop an egg on it!), this was bad marketing at its worst. The sideline interview with Dartmouth's medical school dean was equally entertaining. Fortunately, the bad ads were counterbalanced by a sweet Ivy League football ad narrated by Brown alum Chris Berman, and an awesome Penn ad voiced by John Legend.