Bard Men Open Fall 2019 Season At Vassar

Poughkeepsie, NY– Vassar College has become a home away from home for Bard Men’s Rugby in 2019. They played multiple 7s tournaments in Poughkeepsie in the spring and, on September 22, kicked off their fall season with a 15s tilt. While Bard has been preparing for 7s, it is Rugby Union season in the Northeast and the hosts lent Bard a pack of freshmen so the Annandalians could field a full side. The fact that everyone got 80 minutes under their belts is much more important than the results, although Bard did get the last laugh with a nice team try to close out the second half.

Bard College men 5 vs. 55 Vassar College Men

Bard arrived at Vassar with 6 players– including 2 rookies– and its team was filled out by Vassar rookies. To say the Raptors were at an experiential disadvantage would be a gross understatement. To compound matters, captains Sam Wilkins and Eddie Dunn played while sick and left early in the first half with an ankle injury respectively. Bard was fortunate, however, that its own alum, Brian Wolf, was the referee; he did a good job explaining penalties while helping maintain a good pace to the game and Bard’s players appreciated his perspective as he rode back with the team to Bard’s campus after the game. 

When the initial kickoff from Bard didn’t go 10 meters, the ensuing confusion wasn’t surprising. Vassar opted for a scrum and, with 6 of its 8 pack members having never scrummaged, one could once again not be surprised that Bard’s pack was still engaged while Vassar’s 8-man picked and made a big scamper down the field. An overeager Mitchell Watson took an offsides penalty which led to Vassar’s first try. The defensive backline was in disarray as the game began, however shaped up as the game progressed. Watson replaced former captain JM Knoetgen at flyhalf and, while his tackling prowess is undeniable, Watson’s defensive positioning will need to improve as the entire backline defense builds out from him.

The other biggest defensive issue was overcommitting to defensive rucks when the ball was clearly won by Vassar. This weakened the defensive line and allowed for some big runs by the Vassar pack into wide gaps. Particularly as Bard prepares for 7s, players will need to be certain they can win or seriously disrupt the ball if they’re going to commit to defensive rucks. Otherwise, they’ll need to stay out and form a staunch defensive line.

On the other side of the ball, Watson formed a nice pairing with rookie Achi Tsitsishvilli and the two speedsters nearly scored multiple times in the first half off quick-taps from penalties taken by Tuscany Foussard. Bard was on Vassar’s doorstep for a couple minutes as the first half unwound but couldn’t quite punch it in. Bard’s inexperience showed and their slowness to rucks meant no continuity, with rarely more than one or two phases of possession even after these long runs. It was encouraging that fellow rookie Ari Greenberg seemed to be in every ruck, although he often received penalties for playing off his feet or hands in the ruck. This was his first game action and he ended the game with two strong runs, whereas earlier in the game he looked like a deer in headlights with ball in hand. Greenberg has the right attitude and as he learns the laws of the game he will certainly become a solid forward for Bard.

Bard wasn’t expecting to play 80 minutes, yet they did not quit even as Vassar ran up the score in the first half. With temperatures in the 90s, Bard showed decent conditioning and resiliency, never shying away from making tackles. They looked like another team after halftime, conceding only two tries to Vassar. Bard’s highlight of the afternoon came when Foussard took a quick-tap penalty with a few minutes remaining, shimmied for a nice run and passed the ball to Watson. Watson gave it to the elusive Tsitsishvilli who fed the winger for a try in the corner. The try showcased Bard’s speed, which they will try to utilize next weekend as they play 7s against Molloy.

Bard players: 1) Sam Wilkins 2) Tuscany Foussard 3) Ari Greenberg 9) Eddie Dunn 10) Mitchell Watson 12) Achi Tsitsishvilli

Next: Sunday, September 29 @ Molloy

Bard Closes String of Vassar Visits By Defeating Hosts In Last Play Thriller

Poughkeepsie, NY (04/14/2019) — For the third consecutive weekend, the Bard Men’s Rugby team loaded into a van on Sunday morning and made the trek down 9G to Vassar College. The Vassar Farm has become a home away from home for Bard this semester, although their hosts have not played nicely, defeating the Reds both previous visits. On the final play of their last game this Sunday, however, Bard punched in a try and a successful conversion gave them a much-deserved 21-19 victory over Vassar.

Game 1: Bard College Men 5 vs. 37 Drew University Men

Tries: Mitchell Watson (1)

Cons: —

Bard played decently in the first half vs. Drew before the game slipped away in the second. Drew opened the scoring when Bard’s winger pressed in to help defend an attack, exposing the exterior for a try out wide. The Reds answered and passed the ball down the hands from one side of the field to the other for a great try that was eventually from JM Knoetgen to Mitchell Watson. Bard should’ve kept trying to feed the ball wide quickly to winger Tahm Siddiquie, who has shown the ability to deke defenders one-on-one and the willingness to take the ball into contact. Drew added two more tries before half, but the game seemed closer than 17-5. Bard had several chances they just couldn’t punch in because the ball was too slow getting to the outside.

The second half was another story as Knoetgen, the team’s captain, came out of the game and Bard’s team lost much of its form. Rookie Nataniel Jener Pagán did get his first whiff of game action which paid off later in the day. This bumped Siddiquie to center and Watson to flyhalf, an all-freshmen, all-rookie backline that will surely become a feared unit in time! Despite the uneven scoreline and an aching rib, Sam Wilkins was out there making big tackles per usual and trying to keep the team in it. Drew, which was the Tri State 7s runner-up this year and this tournament’s eventual champion, proved too much and won this game going away.

Game 2: Bard College Men 14 vs. 22 SUNY Oneonta Men

Tries: Mitchell Watson (2)

Cons: JM Knoetgen (1), Mitchell Watson (1)

In its next game, Bard was within striking distance of Oneonta before an injury ended the game early. Bard once again conceded the first try before smartly recovering a kickoff and maintaining possession for five or six phases. Oneonta’s defense bent and finally broke when Watson shimmied through the line and ran in a long try with Siddiquie supporting. Oneonta struck right back when Bard’s box defender got sucked into the mayhem of a ruck, leaving the weak side edge exposed. Bard had the chance to gain its first lead before the half but didn’t get the ball wide quickly enough, an issue that cost them a few tries on the afternoon.

Down by 3 points at the half, Bard, overcommitting to defensive rucks and thus debilitating its defensive line, gave up two more tries to begin the second half and all of a sudden 7-10 was 7-22. Watson kept the Raptors in the game with his second long try and then Knoetgen had a perfect kickoff which was recovered by Wilkins. Wilkins passed to Watson who offloaded to Tuscany Foussard. Bard was on the doorstep of scoring again when Foussard passed to Barkin Cihanli who took a brutal hit to the knee. With less than a minute to go, the injury led to the game being called 22-14 to Oneonta. It’s a shame because Bard had the momentum and was gaining confidence, but that confidence carried on to the final game.

Game 3: Bard College Men 21 vs. 19 Vassar College Men

Tries: Mitchell Watson (2), Nataniel Jener Pagán (1)

Cons: JM Knoetgen (3)

Bard received the initial kickoff in its final game and Wilkins jumped, caught the ball adroitly, came down, and offloaded to Watson who raced in for a sixty meter try- something that has become a fairly regular sight the past few weekends! Vassar, however, responded on a nice play out of a scrum and was only down 7-5. Bard was not ready for the following kickoff and, while the Reds did get the ball, they were pinned deep without support. A knock-on gave the ball to Vassar five meters out and led to a score and 12-7 lead for Vassar at halftime. Overall, Bard did much better in taking kickoffs this Sunday although there is still room for growth.

Bard went down 19-7 early in the second half and things looked grim for the Reds. Bard buckled down on defense, however, and did not quit. Foussard played like a man possessed, throwing his body into huge tackles, making an impressive poach at one point, and haranguing the opposing scrumhalf in each scrum. Cihanli is wiley when it comes to quick tap penalties, one of which led to Bard getting the ball deep in Vassar’s territory. In open play, Jener Pagán wound up with the ball and showed some impressive moves, scampering in to touch the ball between the goalposts, setting up an easy conversion for Knoetgen which made it 19-14 to Vassar with only a couple minutes remaining. Knoetgen threw Vassar off by sending the following kickoff deep. Hounding defense led by Foussard caused a turnover and, on the final play of the game, Watson punched in another try, though the conversion would be a difficult one. With ice in his veins, Bard’s captain drilled it through the uprights, and Knoetgen clinched a 21-19 victory to the Reds as the final whistle blew.

Bard has next weekend off for the holidays and is looking for game action to pick up for the weekend of April 27-28. The team has shown progression each week in their trips to Vassar and, now that everyone has a decent grasp of the game, it can focus on becoming more technically and strategically sound. Recruiting more players will be a focus going into next year as, when Bard has a desirable lineup on the field and gas in the tank, it can go toe-to-toe with any Tri State 7s foe.

All Games: 1 Sam Wilkins 2 Barkin Cihanli 3 Chris Tatavitto* 4 Tuscany Foussard 5 John Michael Knoetgen (C) 6 Mitchell Watson 7 Tahmid Siddiquie Sub: Nataniel Jener Pagán

Low Kickoff Retention Rate & Missed Tackles Undo Bard in Tri-State 7s Championship

Poughkeepsie, NY (04/07/2019) – With pristine conditions for early April, Bard joined fifteen other collegiate 7s teams from the tri-state area for the spring championship. The Raptor ruggers came in with confidence, having beaten SUNY New Paltz’s “B” side the weekend before and lost closely to Marist’s “B” side. Bard was in a pool with SUNY New Paltz’s “A” side this weekend, as well as eventual pool winners Molloy and hosts Vassar. While Bard went winless for the day, they played a very tight game with New Paltz and gained experience playing strong sides.

Game 1: Bard College Men 10 v 17 SUNY New Paltz “A”

Tries: Alexander Beatty (1), Edward Dunn (1)

Cons: —

Bard dominated possession of the ball in the first half against SUNY New Paltz and did well defending the outside of the field when New Paltz did have possession. Alexander Beatty scored the team’s lone try of the half from a well-timed offload, tying the score 5-5. It appeared Bard was going to take the lead when Tahm Siddiquie broke through the line after a penalty and the try would have certainly been to Bard’s advantage. As it were, the referee blew the play dead and brought it back for a penalty which Bard did not capitalize on. Before the half, another New Paltz player was penalized and yellow carded, giving Bard a 7-6 advantage in terms of players. They couldn’t punch it in before the half and had to settle for a 5-5 tie after 7 minutes.

With an extra player, the Reds should have pushed the ball wide at the onset of the second half. Quite conversely, players were being sucked into breakdown areas, negating their advantage. New Paltz’s penalized player returned and two missed tackles led to two tries and a 17-5 edge to the Hawks. Despite witnessing how quickly missed tackles can spell disaster in 7s rugby, Bard did not quit. Eddie Dunn had a nice run which, combined with poor tackling from the SUNY side, resulted in a long try and 17-10 score with one play remaining. Bard needed to recover their own kickoff to have a chance for a tie. New Paltz recovered, however, and, while they inadvisably attacked instead of kicking to touch and ending the game, New Paltz held on for a hard-fought 17-10 victory.

Game 2: Bard College Men 7 vs. 20 Molloy College Men

Tries: Mitchell Watson (1)

Cons: John Michael Knoetgen (1)

At the end of the day, Molloy went undefeated in pool play and advanced to the quarterfinal round, but Bard did not make things easy for the Lions. After Molloy scored first, Sam Wilkins caught an early kickoff and offloaded in contact to Mitchell Watson for an equalizing try. The rest of the half was a back-and-forth basher. Perry Zhang had a few powerful runs, catching the ball at pace and showing significant improvement from the weekend before, which was only his first game action. One such run led to Bard drawing a penalty 25-meters out with less than a minute to go in the half. Unfortunately, Watson knocked on the pass from Knoetgen and the game remained 5-5 after 7 minutes.

The second half proved to be Bard’s undoing as, on the first play of the half, Molloy took the kick and a missed tackle led to a try. They kicked it off, recovered their own kick, and scored another try. They recovered another of their own kicks, were awarded a penalty, and put the icing on a 20-7 victory. All told, Molloy recovered 4 out of 5 of their own kicks; the only kick Bard received led to a lovely try!

Game 3: Bard College Men 0 vs. 24 Vassar College Men



The wind appeared to be out of Bard’s sails after the first half against Molloy. SUNY New Paltz and Molloy had already clinched advancements to the quarterfinal round, so the final game against Vassar was all for pride. With a host of fans cheering them on and their home turf to defend, Vassar had the advantage and played well. Frustration set in for Bard, as missed tackles led to conceded tries and the opponents once again recovered multiple of their own kickoffs. Give credit to Vassar as there were also multiple instances in which Bard took the ball into contact and the Brewers team-tackled, holding the ball up in mauls and creating turnovers. With the freshman duo of speedsters Tahm Siddiquie and Mitchell Watson banged up, Bard didn’t play with their typical backline which did not help matters. The hosts shut Bard out, something the Raptors won’t soon forget.

Despite the results, Bard did improve in defending the outside and made many more advantageous offloads than the previous weekend. The team focused on making team-tackles and going for poaches leading up to this weekend, but the next step is figuring out when a poach is not possible and setting the defensive line rather than getting stuck in rucks. Kickoffs still gave the Annandalians fits and their recovery rate needs to improve greatly if they hope to have success next weekend, back at the Vassar Farm.

Game 1: 1 Tuscany Foussard, 2 Barkin Cihanli, 3 Alexander Beatty, 4 Edward Dunn, 5 John Michael Knoetgen (C), 6 Mitchell Watson, 7 Tahmid Siddiquie Subs: Sam Wilkins, Perry Zhang

Game 2: 1 Alexander Beatty, 2 Barkin Cihanli, 3 Perry Zhang, 4 Edward Dunn, 5 John Michael Knoetgen (C), 6 Mitchell Watson, 7 Sam Wilkins, Subs: Tahmid Siddiquie, Tuscany Foussard

Game 3: 1 Alexander Beatty, 2 Barkin Cihanli, 3 Perry Zhang, 4 Edward Dunn, 5 John Michael Knoetgen(C), 6 Sam Wilkins, 7 Tuscany Foussard, Subs: Tahmid Siddiquie, Mitchell Watson

Bard Shows Steady Growth and Earns First Win in Hudson Valley 7s Tournament

Poughkeepsie, NY – The last day of March marked the first time the Bard College Men pulled on their jerseys for official rugby matches during the 2018-19 school year. A constant rain fell throughout the afternoon as five local colleges clashed in Poughkeepsie at Vassar’s Hudson Valley 7s Tournament in preparation for next weekend’s Conference Championship. While the temperatures plummeted all afternoon, Bard’s play showed notable improvement from game to game.

Game 1: Bard College Men 5 v 30 Vassar College Men

Tries: Mitchell Watson (1)

Cons: —

The day began inauspiciously as host Vassar kicked to Bard and, with no one calling for the ball, it landed between two Bard forwards and bounced to Vassar for an immediate try. Senior Alex Beatty called for the ensuing kickoff but a Vassar player came flying in and stole the ball away. Bard didn’t shy away from tackles, but Vassar put in another try to make the score 10-0. Bard did close out the half on a high when freshman Mitchell Watson showed his athleticism and innate knack for the game, running in an impressive long try in his first half of play and making it 10-5 after 7 minutes.

The second half saw Bard win their share of offensive rucks, but an absence of offloads, players taking passes flat-footed instead of at pace, and lack of depth led to slow play. On defense, Bard committed too many players to rucks which led to advantages for Vassar and a final scoreline that heavily favored the hosts.

Game 2: Bard College Men 17 vs. 20 Marist College Men

Tries: Mitchell Watson (2), Edward Dunn (1)

Cons: John Michael Knoetgen (1)

After getting the butterflies out of their bellies, Bard regrouped quickly in a back-and-forth affair against the other Poughkeepsie school. Marist took an early lead as one of their players beat Bard’s defense to the outside and scored an impressive solo try. The Annandalians responded, however, by receiving the next kick, winning a ruck and, out of the breakdown, seeing a two on one advantage emerge. Captain JM Knoetgen timed his pass perfectly and put Mitchell Watson away for his second try of the afternoon, while fellow freshman Tahm Siddiquie followed perfectly in support. Knoetgen converted the try and Bard had their first lead of the day, 7-5. Unfortunately, they quickly saw how a single missed tackle and poor positioning can lead to havoc as Marist players got behind and then outside Bard’s defense, putting Bard down 15-7.

Bard adjusted their defense at the half, making a concerted effort to defend players on the outside and force opponents to the middle where defensive help is aplenty. The second half began brilliantly on offense as Beatty ran a strong line, offloaded to sophomore Sam Wilkins at pace in support, who in turn offloaded to Dunn again at pace and in support for the try of the day. Bard was back in the game at 12-15 and, after recovering their own fortuitous kick, got deep into Marist’s territory before knocking it on 5 meters out. The pressure, however, forced Marist to kick out of the scrum and, while the kick should have gone to touch for territory, it was placed in the middle of the field and returned by Watson for a try and 17-15 edge to Bard with only two minutes remaining. After Tuscany Foussard stole a scrum for Bard, it seemed certain they would hang on for the win. Unfortunately, Marist was awarded another scrum and a missed tackle led to their lone try of the second half and the Red Foxes stole a 20-17 victory from Bard.

Game 3: Bard College Men 10 vs. 0 New Paltz Men

Tries: Sam Wilkins (2)

Cons: –

The first game was a dud and the second a heartbreaker, but the third was a hard-earned win. It seemed Bard could and should have run away with this one, as that is literally what Sam Wilkins did on the first kick of the game, taking it 60 meters by himself for a try and an instant 5-0 lead. Bard dominated possession and graduate student Barkin Cihanli made huge gain after huge gain on quick-tap penalties. While led by Siddiquie on the wing, Bard did a great job of defending the outside in this contest, on multiple occasions they forgot to attack to the outside on offense. At one point Foussard made an excellent break to open up a two on one attack but then instead of shipping the ball wide for an easy try, cut back infield and the score remained 5-0 at the half.

Once again, Bard showed the ability to adjust deftly at the half. Knoetgen’s nose for the ball led him into too many defensive rucks in the first half but, in the second half, he anchored a solid defensive backline that held New Paltz scoreless. Freshman Perry Zhang was more active in rucks and made some runs by taking the ball at pace. Foussard looked strong at hooker and Dunn made a long run off a scrum which led to an offload from Beatty to Wilkins for his second try of the match. While the final score was only 10-0, Bard probably could and should have added a couple more tries, however, was happy to walk away with its first win of the season.

Game 4: Bard College Men 0 vs. 20 Seton Hall Man

Tries: –

Cons: –

The rain increased and the temperature decreased after Bard’s victory over New Paltz and the final scheduled game was canceled due to the weather. However, instead of closing on a high note, Bard played a final impromptu contest against Seton Hall. All things considered– without rest between the final two games, running on fumes with only nine players, increasingly poor weather conditions– the results were not too bad. The fatigue, however, was evident as offloads went awry and breakdowns went unrucked. The lone bright spot in this game appeared to be coming when Watson made a tremendous juke, broke a tackle, and nearly was away for yet another try. Seeming to embody the team’s overall state at this point, he was just barely tripped up and ran out of gas before he could escape. Unfortunately, he did not realize Siddiquie was running behind him for an offload, as he was all afternoon, and could have been put away for the score. As these two were only both playing in their first game action, there will be plenty of time for them to hook up for tries in the future.

Overall, Bard showed improvement throughout the day, the ability to make in-game adjustments, fearlessness in contact and a relentless spirit. There is a solid mixture of leadership and new players eager to learn. There will be plenty to build on during practice this week as they prepare for the Tri-State Championships next week back at Vassar.

Game 1: 1 Sam Wilkins, 2 Barkin Cihanli, 3 Alexander Beatty, 4 Tuscany Foussard, 5 John Michael Knoetgen (C), 6 Mitchell Watson, 7 Tahmid Siddiquie Subs: Perry Zhang, Edward Dunn

Game 3: 1 Sam Wilkins, 2 Barkin Cihanli, 3 Perry Zhang, 4 Tuscany Foussard, 5 John Michael Knoetgen(C), 6 Mitchell Watson, 7 Tahmid Siddiquie, Subs: Edward Dunn, Alexander Beatty

Game 2: 1 Alexander Beatty, 2 Barkin Cihanli, 3 Perry Zhang, 4 Edward Dunn, 5 John Michael Knoetgen (C), 6 Mitchell Watson, 7 Tahmid Siddiquie, Subs: Sam Wilkins, Tuscany Foussard