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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Game 31: Princeton – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (M. Hoops)

Good Bad & Ugly






Penn (9-22, 6-8 Ivy) closed out its season tonight with a loss to arch-rival Princeton (17-11, 10-4), 71-58, in a game that mattered little in the standings but plenty to the young men on the floor. In a performance evocative of its entire season, the Quakers hung around at first, before inconsistency took its toll and led to yet another disappointing defeat.

The Good: Tony Hicks (1st Half Edition)

In his final game of the season, the freshman came out like gangbusters, draining shots from all over the floor. Whether it was cutting and spinning to get to the basket, or pump-faking and firing away from the elbow, Hicks simply couldn't miss, dropping in 17 points on 7-9 shooting to energize the Palestra and carry the Quakers to a halftime tie while his struggling teammates combined to shoot 5-15. Even better, Hicks managed to take care of the ball as well, turning the ball over only once in the first period. If Hicks can turn in performances like that on a nightly basis next season, Penn will boast a backcourt that can potentially stand up to even mighty Harvard.

The Bad: Tony Hicks (2nd Half Edition)

But in the 2nd half, the wheels came off. The Tigers' guards tightened up on Hicks the rest of the way, limiting him to only 5 points on an unsightly 2-10 shooting performance. In the blink of a eye, Hicks reminded us all of the inconsistency that plagued this year's Quakers squad during Ivy play: flashes of brilliance at times (a stunning upset over Harvard) cancelled out by moments of sheer futility (losing to Dartmouth at home). Like the rest of his class, Hicks still has a lot to learn.

The Ugly: Penn's Mental Effort in the final 5 minutes

Though there was technically nothing to play for in tonight's game, the reality is that a huge amount of pride is riding on every Penn-Princeton matchup. And in this, the 228th meeting between the two historic rivals, the Quakers showed none of that pride when the chips were down. Down by 2 with just over 5 minutes to play, the early fight that the Red and Blue showed simply disappeared when T.J. Bray hit a 3 from the right elbow to give Princeton a 56-51 lead. As a result, what could have been a nail-biting finish and another classic duel turned decidedly anticlimactic, as the Tigers rolled the rest of the way. If the Quakers want to contend in the Ivy League next year, they simply have to avoid fading after the opposition hits clutch shots.

Three Up, Three Down: Princeton Edition

Three Up Three DownIt's rare for the Penn-Princeton matchup to have no Ivy title implications. That said, both teams still have pride on the line: the Quakers (9-21, 6-7 Ivy) are looking to salvage a disappointing season by improving to a .500 record in conference play, while the Tigers (16-11, 9-4) will try to bounce back after suffering defeats on the road against Yale and Brown that ended their Ancient Eight championship hopes. When the two teams meet for what ESPN calls one of the greatest rivalries in college basketball Tuesday night at the Palestra,  who will be up and who will be down for Penn basketball?

Three Up-

Tony Hicks: It's hard to be "up" much more than averaging 23.8 points per contest over his last four games, but Hicks to continue his great play against the Tigers. Last time the teams met, Hicks was the lone bright spot for Penn, putting up 16 points in the defeat. Princeton has no defender quick enough to keep up with Hicks, who has only gotten better since their last meeting. The rookie guard is much improved from the free throw line, as he has made 40-for-45 (.889) from the charity stripe since the last Penn-Princeton matchup. With his quickness and shooting prowess, Hicks will likely put up 16+ points against the Tigers Tuesday night.

Darien Nelson-Henry: Despite Princeton sporting a lineup full of trees (no starter for the Tigers stands under 6-5), Nelson-Henry outweighs all of his opposing starters by at least 40 pounds. Combine that with soft hands and developing skills in the post, and the freshman center is in for a good night while carrying the load inside for Penn.

Attendance: A down year for Penn basketball has left the student section at the Palestra relatively empty on many occasions this season. However, a significant uptick in student attendance can be expected against Princeton. If nothing else, students will attend to wear their "Puck Frinceton" shirts and shout epithets at their rival school.

Three Down-

Three-point shooting defense: T.J. Bray buried the Quakers in January by burying six three-pointers on his way to a 23-point performance. Overall, the Tigers knocked down 11 treys while shooting 50 percent from distance. With Ivy League Player of the Year candidate Ian Hummer attracting attention inside the three-point line, the Penn defense will be distracted and end up chasing the ball around the perimeter. The Tigers, who lead the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Ancient Eight in assists, will succeed in making the extra pass and finding the open man.

Miles Cartwright: The junior guard struggled to find the bottom of the net against the Tigers last time around, converting just 1-for-7 from the field, and there is no reason to believe anything has changed for him since then. Unlike Hicks, Cartwright does not have the craftiness and agility to create his own shot and slice his way through the Princeton zone defense, and his three-point shooting has rarely been reliable this season. All signs point to Cartwright shooting well below 50 percent once again, though he can give Penn a chance to win by distributing the ball  and limiting turnovers.

Turnovers: Over the last three games, Penn has averaged just 13.7 turnovers per contest — a significant improvement from the poor ball handling earlier in the season. Additionally, Princeton ranks second-to-last in steal among the Ivies, which should help the Quakers maintain possession of the ball.

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.

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.

Liveblog: Penn football at Princeton

I'm at Princeton Stadium with Anna Strong and John Phillips. With Penn, Princeton and Harvard tied for first place in the Ivy League, the Quakers' matchup with the Tigers has title implications for the first time since 2005. Penn ( 3-4, 3-1 Ivy) has won its last five games against Princeton (4-3, 3-1), but the Tigers are certainly a different team this year. Follow all the action here:

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.

Weekend Wrap: Volleyball shocks Princeton on the road and more

We all know you've had ample football coverage this weekend, but what about the members of the Red and Blue playing at venues other than the Yale Bowl? For recaps of Penn's other squads, look no further than this week's edition of "Weekend Wrap."

The volleyball team began the second half of its conference schedule with a dramatic victory over Princeton on the road, battling back from two sets down to win, 3-2. While Penn (10-9, 5-3 Ivy) will need the Tigers and the Bulldogs to lose some matches to give it a chance at an Ivy title, this weekend’s performance could be a major turning point for this relatively young squad.

Men's Soccer
Playing on the road, the Quakers’ struggles continued, and the team lost to a lackluster Yale squad, 2-1. Without an Ivy win to its name, this Red and Blue team is hard pressed to find a silver lining to this season’s performance. That said, Penn (2-11, 0-4) could make some noise in the Ivy League by upsetting first-place Brown next weekend.

Women's Soccer
Though this team has walked on a knife’s edge at times this season, the Penn women’s soccer squad has a legitimate shot at an Ivy title, and the team made progress toward that goal by defeating Yale, 2-0, in New Haven. It was just the third road victory for the Quakers (8-5-1, 4-1) against the Bulldogs in program history, and the first time in four games that the Red and Blue have put up multiple goals in a game. These are auspicious signs for the team as it enters its final two matches of the season, including a hotly anticipated showdown with league-leading Princeton on Nov. 3.

Field Hockey
A 3-2 victory on the road over Yale keeps Penn field hockey on pace to improve upon last year’s 2-5 Ivy League record, not to mention out of last place. The game ball (is that a thing in field hockey?) undoubtedly goes to junior captain Julie Tahan, who assisted two scores before adding the game-winner herself. The following day, the Quakers (7-7, 2-3) dropped a contest against Fairfield, 4-2. While coaches and players will give you a line about why momentum’s important, the fact of the matter is that the Ivy slate is what counts, so if you’re going to split for the weekend, the Red and Blue did it right.

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

It's finally time for tipoff! For the first time since the 2006-07 season, the Quakers (19-11, 11-2 Ivy) will have a chance to clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title tonight against archrival Princeton (18-11, 9-4) at Jadwin Gymnasium. Penn is red hot with its seven-game winning streak, but the Tigers also come in on a good note, having won seven of their last eight. Follow along as Sushaan Modi and Mike Wisniewski duel blog the action live with The Daily Princetonian:

Liveblog: W. Hoops at Princeton

We're at Jadwin Gymnasium in Princeton, N.J., where the Penn women's hoops team taks on Princeton in the season finale. Princeton (23-4, 13-0 Ivy) has already clinched the Ivy League title. The Quakers (13-14, 6-7) have won four of their last five. This will be the last collegiate game for seniors F Jess Knapp and F Jourdan Banks.

Penn-Princeton rivalry in one sentence

In anticipation of Monday's crucial matchup against Princeton, I asked Penn players and coaches, as well as Athletic Director Steve Bilsky, to sum up the Penn-Princeton rivalry in one (sometimes run-on) sentence.

How would you sum up the rivalry in one sentence?