Women’s Rugby No.1 in the State
By HEATHER BRADY and NICK NELSON
Last Sunday, the Mary Washington women’s rugby team scored their first win at the Virginia Rugby Union state championship since the fall semester of 2007.
The team played against the College of William & Mary, winning with a final score of 20-7.
The state championship has existed for 14 years, and UMW’s women’s rugby team reigned every year until 2008. Sunday’s win brought them back to the top.
“We basically dominated the game,” senior Mercy Furey said. “We played most of the game on their side of the field.”
Furey, the team’s president, was particularly impressed with the way the freshmen played on the field.
“It was a freshman who scored both of our tries,” Furey said.
Freshman Anna Davis, who scored the tries, accrued 14 of the team’s points.
Furey said one of the most amazing moments in the game was when senior Molly Walter completed a drop-goal within William and Mary’s 20-meter line while in game play, scoring three additional points for the team.
“Usually that’s hard to do in ongoing play [and] only happens when the game is stopped,” Furey said.
It had been a successful season for the team entering last weekend’s state championship tournament. The team notched wins against Virginia Military Institute, Longwood University and Virginia Commonwealth University, winning the latter contest by a score of 40-0. Their lone intercollegiate loss came against George Washington University by a score of 29-14.
The team defeated Longwood University again in the State Championship semifinals by a score of 24-7 to face William & Mary in the state final.
Bill Lucas, the team’s assistant coach, was surprised with the win.
“We came out and played as well as I’ve seen us play in years,” Lucas said.
Lucas attributed the win to better athleticism this year. In 2008, he said 12 students from the team graduated, including nine starters.
“That was a big hit,” he said. “This year, we picked up a lot of good athletes, and some of the ones we had improved a lot.”
Lucas said he thought the team’s attitude led them through Sunday’s game to their victory.
“I think it was everyone deciding they didn’t want to lose again, so they played hard and played smart,” he said. “It was a total team effort. You could tell that they really had a mission.”
Diana Schwerha and Claire Novak founded the team in 1985. The team has competed at the Division II level since 1998, winning the tournament for the first 12 years in Division II.
In its 25 years of existence, the team has played host to such notable members as 2002 grad Liz King, selected as a Collegiate All-American on three separate occasions.
By winning the state championship, the team will now have the opportunity to host the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union tournament at UMW in March.
Senior Sarah Lowdon said the best part of the game itself other than the win was actually making the scores.
I hope that it just shows the campus we are, since we came in as underdogs and came out on top,” Lowdon said.
Furey said that after two years of rebuilding, the team is ready for competition.
“We have a strong team again,” she said.
Photo courtesy of David McMillan.