The second part of the OURFC Tour of the North East United States diary resumes after the Blues’ first match against Mystic River RFC.
Having played a good first match, but one that highlighted some important work-ons, we headed into the week’s build up to the Collegiate All American match. A week that will took us into four different states and four different Ivy League universities.
Monday saw us finish our time at Harvard, Massachusetts with training followed by an opportunity to heed some wise advice from our excitable, 28 year old fresher Andy Saull and make some memories sightseeing around downtown Boston. Fortunately, the Freedom Trail – a walking track past historic buildings of interest – provided an (almost) unmissable red brick line which even the most geographically challenged in the squad could follow (almost). That afternoon we piled back into our minibuses and proceeded to crawl through Boston trying to escape the clutches of the rush hour we had just subjected ourselves to, before passing into Connecticut and our next stop at Yale University. We met their rugby squad in the university trophy room, an impressive room in an impressive building called the Payne Whitney Gymnasium. This building, dubbed the ‘cathedral of sweat’ is a lovely piece of Gothic Revival architecture and is the second largest gymnasium in world by volume, narrowly beating the Iffley Road rugby gym under the main stand. It was at this meeting that we were assigned the billets we would stay with for the next three nights. Yale made a quick and favourable impression on the squad. Maybe it was the familiar, Oxford-inspired architecture, maybe it was the fact that with organised billets, sleeping with four men in three square metres was a thing of the past. We spent the next three days on the university campus, training as a squad and with the Yale side, benefiting from more exceptional sport facilities and getting a taste of the social side to college life. We were well looked after and got the chance to tour around the campus, being led my the Yale Rugby Club President Brian. This included The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library a windowless building with 1.5 inch white Vermont marble walls which let through sunlight whilst keeping out UV. Housing original copies of many a masterpiece, it instilled. Between enjoying the sights and some profitable training, we found time to relax in a variety of ways. This included a party put on by our hosts at the same ‘frat house’ once led by George W Bush, a prolific kegstand performer!
Following Yale, we headed further south to Princeton University in New Jersey. Another lovely town and unique university. Spending only 24 hours at Princeton meant we didn’t really have the chance to sink our teeth into the surroundings but we had a great time staying with the rugby boys there. We arrived and got straight into training with their team. There seemed to be a slight difference in expectation from the two sides with regards to the training and the session ending up taking the rough format of a match but despite lacking mutual understanding, there appeared to be mutual benefit. Time with our billets in the evening gave a chance to go to the eating clubs at Princeton which are similar to colleges in a setting just like the typical leafy college streets in suburbia.
Having seen some amazing places and met some incredibly friendly and hospitable people, we left our taste of the college dream behind before heading to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for our match against the Collegiate All American Rugby Team.
Part three to follow.