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Notre Dame defeated Michigan 40-29 to take home the DeHaven and Harless trophy and get its first win under the leadership of new Director of Rugby and Head Coach Justin Hickey.
A rivalry between the Fighting Irish and the Wolverines has emerged recently and the winner of the annual game receives the DeHaven and Harless trophy, named after a pair of friends that played undergraduate rugby at Michigan and continued to play during their law school days at Notre Dame. For the first time in a number of years, the trophy heads back to South Bend.
Although Notre Dame won the match, it was not an easy go of it to start the new season. In addition to having a new coaching staff, Notre Dame only had a week to prepare for the game. This weekend was the only weekend the two squads could fit the game in their schedules.
Michigan opened the scoring in the third minute with a converted try but the Irish responded immediately with a try from Senior Luc Joseph. After a penalty gave Notre Dame the lead, Nick Argy dotted down to make it 15-7 to the visitors. After Michigan cut the lead to 15-12, Joseph dotted his second of the game to make it 20-12 at halftime.
Joseph returns for his senior season after taking a year off to rest during last year. The former U-20 All American will be one the mainstays on the team and has already earned the praise of his new coach.
“The kid is just a quality leader and an all around great young man,” Hickey said of Joseph. “He has done really well to step back in and set the culture that we want to have.”
Another player that has impressed Hickey in his short time at Notre Dame is captain Pat McMahon. The senior number eight has tremendous leadership skills on and off the field and made his impact felt on the field Friday night. At 20-12, he extended the lead to 25-12 with a try.
“Those two when they are on the field I don’t have to say much and they don’t have to look over at me. I trust them to really lead as an extension of the coaching staff and they performed as well. They had three tries between them and did a really good job keeping us in order going forward last night,” Hickey said of his team leaders.
After another penalty from the Irish, Michigan fought back with a pair of tries to cut the lead to 28-24. Substitute John Gadient, however, stemmed the momentum with a late try. Dan Conmy added one more in the 78th minute to extend the lead to 40-24. The Wolverines scored a try at the death to finish the game off at 40-29.
“It was exciting. I am really really proud of the guys. I know last year was a long year for them in gerneral and Lonnie (Heeter) did a good job keeping them together throughout the process,” said Hickey. ”We had just started practicing last Saturday and kind of just had six days leading into it so to get the result was extremely encouraging.”