For a select group of girls, fall at Mary Washington signals the onset of all the blood, sweat and tears that serve as battle scars for the women’s rugby team.
A staple since 1985, the rugby team competes at a Division-II club level and has enjoyed much success in the past, winning the Virginia Rugby Union Division II tournament annually from 1998 to 2006, and finishing as high as third in the nation. 1998 was the team’s first year in Division II competition.
This year’s season has been no exception, beginning on Sept. 29 with a squeaker of a win against William and Mary at home, 27-24.
This was followed by a 0-0 tie against Longwood, two forfeit wins against University of Richmond and Radford University, and a crushing 43-0 victory over Virginia Commonwealth.
Thanks to those wins, Mary Washington will head into the VRU tournament this weekend in Richmond with a 4-0-1 record.
The tournament will begin with the Eagles facing Virginia Commonwealth again. The tournament gives the team a chance to figure out where they ranked in the state, while the spring season will determine their national ranking.
Junior Marissa Boyce is hopeful her team will do well.
“If we win this tournament, we’ll start the spring season ranked eighth in the nation,” she said.
Senior Leslie Worthington realizes that it has not been smooth sailing the entire season.
“We have lost ten seniors each of the last two years,” she said. “We actually have more rookies than returning players this year. The biggest challenge has been trying to mesh, but the girls have really stepped it up.”
The Mary Washington squad has faced plenty of stiff competition in past years, ranging from big-name Division I schools such as UVA, Clemson University and Ohio State University, to upstart lower-division schools such as York College, Shippensburg University and Plymouth State University.
But there has been plenty to smile about as well.
“The raw talent of our rookies is awesome,” Worthington said. “The [returning girls] really stepped it up, and we’re all just impressed by how well everyone pulled together. The team is awesome this year.”
Practices are typically held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Spring practices will begin the first Monday of classes in the spring semester and there is no experience necessary to play.