By Ida Ynnerlagerqvist
Last year, they made history as the university’s first ever women’s rugby team. This year, with six new recruits, strong bonds and leadership will take them through their second season as a NCAA team.
Venture to the practice fields behind the Pratt Recreation Center and hear the whistles and the laughter – it’s the women’s rugby team in the middle of their practice. This semester, the team welcomes 14 players that are new to the sport, something head coach John Royal sees as the team’s biggest challenge. He pointed out two elements that they are working on to improve themselves.
“We are still a work in progress when it comes to fundamental skills and game management,” Royal said. Bella Lubsey, a freshman film major, agrees. “Because we have some players that are fully brand new to the game, we just need to strengthen the general background knowledge of how to play,” she said.
In all team sports, strong connections between players are important, especially in a sport like rugby. Their bonds are one of the team’s biggest strengths.
Frankie Ferrara, a senior health science major, pointed out the team’s strong ability to be there for each other. “It’s a rough sport so you have to be close with your team. We work really well together and we can really rely on each other. Even if it’s outside of rugby, if something happens we are always there to pick each other up,” she said.
Each team member has their own unique background. “How we just all come together is wonderful. Each one of us has something different that we bring to the team, and I feel like that is unique,” Nickala Stephens, a freshman pre-medical science major, said.
Walking in to their second season, Royal has a clear goal. “My goal for this group is to play smart, intelligent rugby [and] to show excellence in the classroom while setting an example of sportsmanship and leadership both on and off the field.”
The rugby team’s season began with a 34-26 victory against Castleton in their season opener Sept. 2, followed by a 36-0 loss against Molloy College Sept. 8, putting them at 1-1 for the season. Their next game is Sunday, Sept. 23, at 12 p.m. where the Pioneers welcome Colby-Sawyer College to their home field.