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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Sudden change of plans for former Penn football prospect

While recruits for the Class of 2017 begin the process of formally announcing their college decisions, one Florida high school senior will no longer be able to do so.

According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, a few days before Plant High School quarterback Aaron Banks was going to orally commit to Penn, his offer was taken away.

Though at the moment Penn football coach Al Bagnoli and the athletics department have declined to comment on the issue, Plant coach Robert Weiner said he will never have his players go to Penn during Bagnoli's tenure.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior played for a Plant team that went 10-2 on the season and is ranked No. 325 nationally and No. 21 in the state of Florida.  The quarterback completed 57 percent of his passes in a season that included 1,442 passing yards and 12 touchdown passes.

In the postseason, he was named most valuable offensive player in the Hillsborough County All-Star Game.

However, there is still much information missing about the reasoning behind such a situation, though Ivy League regulations and qualifications may be behind it.

However, Weiner — who said that nothing like this has ever happened to one of his players — believes the removal of the offer was made due to a decision to go with another quarterback for this recruiting class.

Game 22: Brown – The Good, Bad & the Ugly

Good Bad & Ugly

FULL RECAP // BOX SCORE

THE GOOD: Penn's three-point shooting

There was a lot of good to around for the Quakers against the Bears, but the Red and Blue kept throwing dagger after dagger from downtown that ultimately put this one in the bag for most of the second half. Penn shot 60 percent from beyond the arc, while limiting the Bears to an atrocious 2-for-18 from downtown.

Junior Miles Cartwright, who broke his career high in points with 28 (previously 27), did so predominantly with the three ball. He went 9-for-13 from the field, including 5-for-6 from three.

THE BAD: Brown's stamina

There was an eerie feeling on press row, right around 6:40, when Brown came out to warm up. And after watching the second half unfold as it did, with Penn outscoring the Bears, 45-23, the DP's resident ghostbuster has determined the cause. Brown came with just nine players, and two of them only played a total of six minutes. Thus, Brown ran essentially a seven-man rotation the entire night. While this worked out fine in the first half, Penn was eventually able to crank the tempo up and run the few bodies that the Bears had out of the Palestra and back into the snowstorm from whence they came.

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Over/Under – Cornell Edition

OverUnder10 points for Fran Dougherty – UNDER

Fran won’t see significantly more minutes just a day after returning to the floor, which is bad news for his point totals. Doc will need to get into a rhythm as the season goes on, but he’ll also have to do it, at least for now, in limited minutes. He looked off, with a lot of the shots that were falling consistently for him in the early part of the season just rimming out on Friday.

10 minutes for Jamal Lewis – UNDER

I’m thinking with my heart more than my head here, because unless you turn in a performance like Lewis did on Friday (two turnovers, three personal fouls) in the seven minutes of playing time that he received against the Lions, it’s hard not to get at least 10 minutes on the floor when you’re the team’s starting point guard.

But Tony Hicks was passing rather effectively last night, even though some opportunities didn’t get converted, and if Jerome Allen pulls Lewis out of the starting five, he won’t get 10 minutes on the court.

10 assists for the Quakers – OVER

Last night was pretty pathetic from a passing perspective, as the Quakers only had six assists the entire night. That won’t be good enough as they go into the rest of the Ivy schedule, and I think they can amend their issues.

Darien Nelson-Henry is getting better every game, and the better that he gets, the more attention that will be focused on him, thus allowing openings around the perimeter, and space for guards to drive and dish.

FIve offensive rebounds for the Quakers – OVER

Last night’s abysmal performance on the boards won’t be repeated again. While Fran is still finding his shooting touch, his timing on the defensive end last night wasn’t terrible, and it’s bound to improve going forward.

Five blocks combined for Dougherty and Nelson-Henry – Under

Last night, Fran and DNH both had monster blocks that really helped Penn maintain momentum going forward. The chances of that happening again this season are relatively low, which is a shame for fans. While DNH has surged on the offensive end of the floor, defensively he has struggled at times, so being able to see him rise up and almost throw one out of bounds should give fans hope, but their combined five blocks last night was a fluke more than anything.

DPOSTM Ivy Hoops Power Rankings: Jan. 10

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Holland receives Ivy League Offensive Player of Week honors

Two days after clinching the outright Ivy League title for the Quakers in his first career start, senior Andrew Holland received yet another award for his play against Cornell.

Holland was named the Ivy League’s Offensive Player of Week on Monday after finishing out the contest against the Big Red with two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing), and 255 passing yards.

He went 18-for-22 through the air, and came through when the Quakers needed him most.

With the game tied at 28, and the outright Ancient Eight crown on the line, Holland orchestrated a six play, 63-yard drive during which he completed all three of his passes for 38 yards, setting up a short touchdown run to take the lead.

His ability under pressure was evident at the end of the first half as
well. He drove the Quakers from their own 11 with just a minute
remaining in the half, and went 4-for-4 on the drive for 80 yards. The
drive culminated in a 41-yard touchdown pass to Jason Seifert.

The only other player on the Quakers to receive this honor this year
was fellow senior quarterback Billy Ragone.

Penn football back on the throne

Monday's front page of the DP is an ode to our coverage of Penn's loss to Harvard last season in Boston. The Quakers had one loss on the Ivy season and, like this season, needed to beat Harvard to stay alive in the title race. The Crimson played like champions and clinched a share of the title with their 37-20 victory. As Penn was on a 'Watch the Throne' tour last season after winning the previous two Ivy championships, we headlined the story 'Dethroned.'

Playing off that, here's what we went with this season. It's a fitting comparison.

Ivy editors make preseason predictions

Similar to the Ivy media preseason men's basketball poll, two editors from each Ivy League newspaper participated in our own preseason poll. Ours was nearly identical to the Ivy League's, with the exception of Columbia and Cornell being switched. Here's the full breakdown with votes:

1. Princeton (13), 123
2. Harvard (2), 108
3. Cornell, 79
4. Columbia, 77
5. Penn (1), 75
6. Yale, 51
7. Brown, 41
8. Dartmouth, 22

Weekend Wrap: On the road at Princeton

While football may have had the most dramatic finish in Princeton over the weekend, it was not the only Penn squad to take on the Tigers. Check Weekend Wrap for a review of the Quakers' performances in other arenas, including a few squads that finished their seasons against Princeton.

Field Hockey
Even in a strong year for Penn field hockey, the Red and Blue were not likely to fair well against No. 2 Princeton. The Tigers outscored their Ivy opponents 45-1 on the year and recorded six league wins by a margin of five goals or more. With this in mind, Quakers’ 7-0 defeat should not come as a surprise to anyone. Princeton’s victory secured its eighth consecutive league title.

That said, Penn (9-8, 3-4 Ivy) can certainly celebrate finishing above .500 for the first time since 2006 — one of several indications that this program is on the rise.

Men's Soccer
Despite holding off the Tigers for the first half an hour of play, the Penn men’s soccer team collapsed once again in a 3-0 loss at Princeton. With a last-place finish on the horizon, the Quakers (2-13, 0-6 Ivy) should start the rebuilding process now and start thinking about how the team can change its fortunes for next season.

Women's Soccer
As Penn women’s soccer coach Darren Ambrose put it, “Speed kills.” The Quakers found this out in a big way this weekend against Princeton, as they fell to the Tigers, 4-2, on the road. Princeton’s Jen Hoy demonstrated why she deserves the Ivy League Player of the Year award, using her speed to create breakaways on multiple occasions, despite double and triple-teams by Penn’s defense. When the Quakers swarmed her, Hoy fed to Lauren Lazo, who recorded a hat trick on the evening.

To their credit, the Red and Blue (9-6-1, 5-2 Ivy) did not go down without a fight. Late in the second half, Clara Midgley added two goals in nine minutes to make the game 3-2. However, the Tigers ultimately added one more score and walked away with a win as well as the league championship.

Volleyball
With Yale steamrolling the Ivy standings, it’s a race to second place for Penn volleyball. Despite knotting the match at 1-1 at one point, the squad failed to slow down the Bulldogs (16-5, 12-0 Ivy) and lost by a final of 3-1 Friday night at the Palestra. However, the Quakers (13-10, 8-4) turned around Saturday to defeat Brown, 3-1, on Senior Night. The Red and Blue currently sit at third in the Ivy League behind Yale and Princeton (12-10, 9-3) with two matches remaining.

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.