By Clare McGreevy
The women’s rugby team may be a lesser known club sports organization on campus, but, through the success of an undefeated official season this fall, the 27 tough-as-nails women of the College’s rugby team are beginning to make waves in the collegiate club rugby community.
Currently 4-0, the women’s rugby team has just come off of an intense and exciting season filled with many new opportunities and new players. The College ended the fall 2018 regular season at the top of the Challenge division, which was closely followed by the club women’s team from Drexel University.
When reflecting on their triumphant season, many players credited much of the team’s success to the installment of new leadership headed by an official coach for the first time in years.
Senior elementary education and English double major Giselle David, a veteran player, recalled being coached by other teammates in years past. David said that this season, it was helpful to see a coach as someone who is older and has more experience.
“We respect them and they have that authority and we take them seriously,” David said. “They see the field differently than we do cause they’re not playing — we’re playing.”
Rugby is not typically considered to be a popular sport in the U.S., especially among women. Most of the players have never played or even seen a rugby game before joining the team.
Allison Bronander, a freshman open options humanities and social sciences major, is one of the few players who has experience with rugby outside of the College –– she began by playing flag rugby back in kindergarten, and she was glad that there were so many more interested players at the College.
“A lot of people came out, especially a lot of freshmen who didn’t know what rugby was,” Bronander said. “Everybody was super enthusiastic about learning. The coaches worked really hard with us. So I feel like everyone really genuinely cared and wanted to do the best that they could.”
The club’s president, senior secondary education and mathematics dual major Nicole Krysa, said that nobody was expecting so much success out of this semester’s team, which now includes nearly fifteen new players.
“The strength of the program is far beyond what any of our competitors expected,” Krysa said.
With a much larger and less experienced team than everyone originally expected, hard work, grit and perseverance were the biggest factors contributing to the ultimate success of this past season. Rugby is a notoriously tough sport and requires a lot of physical effort.
Camaraderie, according to the players, was the No. 1 factor that made their team so strong this season. One of the freshman players, biomedical engineering major Sarah Butchley, reminisced on the struggles of her first practice and of adjusting to the team.
“For sure I was gonna quit, but I just kept coming back and I liked the sport and once I met the girls I started to like the team overall,” Butchley said. “All of the upperclassmen seemed so close and it just seemed like a fun thing to be a part of.”
When describing the cohesiveness of the group, Rebka Friav, a freshman nursing major, said that the women’s rugby team has no cliques, unlike any other team she has been a part of.
“This team is inclusion,” she said. “They always make me feel comfortable.”
The players have to work well as a team both on and off the field, according to junior psychology major Alexa Alioto, because the sport itself is so teamwork oriented.
“In a scrum, we are all cogs in a machine,” she said. “We all have to work together and are literally physically connected. We have to rely on each other so much more. It’s unlike any other sport because you all come together and move as one literal unit.”
The team has a special bond driving its success, and there is a bright future ahead for the women’s rugby team. Win or lose, at the end of the day, the College’s women’s rugby team is just happy to be together.
“I’ve never been part of a team like this in any other sport,” said freshman health and exercise science major Mirelle Santos. “It really does seem like a family.”