UMW Rugby teams close seasons on sours notes
By ELIZA MAY
Over the weekend, the men and women rugby programs concluded their seasons. For the men’s team, the season started with the addition of two new coaches, Hennie van Zyl and Augustin Oulton. For the women’s team, they were cautiously optimistic after losing the conference finals in the fall.
The men’s home opener, a double header against VCU and William and Mary was moved to Richmond due to field conditions. After coming out on top for both games, they were forced to cancel their next game due to single-digit temperatures but came out on top the following weekend, shutting out York 60-0. After spring break, the team hosted the Capital 7s tournament for high school teams in the region. Mother’s Rugby beat Georgetown the following weekend 26-22.
Unfortunately, Mother’s Rugby was unable to end the season on a high note, suffering a 98-0 defeat against Mount St. Mary’s in Fredericksburg on Saturday.
“We played individually and not like a team,” said sophomore Ryan Iskowitz. “They saw us getting angry and that let them really rip the game open. If we want to compete with them next year, we need to get stronger mentally and physically.”
The women’s team came in to the spring season with a bit of adversity. After losing to Salisbury in the Capital Conference Championship at home last November and losing close to 15 members in addition to the 13 seniors that graduated last May, they were forced to cancel their first two matches due to field conditions and freezing temperatures.
By the end of February, the weather started to calm down allowing for practice to resume on a normal basis and they were able to defeat Rappahannock at home 50-15 before going on Spring Break. Once they returned, the season really got underway, coming out on top against UMBC, Catholic University, American University and George Washington over the next month.
Thanks to a successful spring season and with their only loss of the year coming from Salisbury in the conference championship, the Mary Washington women’s rugby team was awarded a bid to compete in and host the USA Rugby DII Nationals Round of 16.
UMW women’s rugby came out on top after the first day, defeating the highly favored South Carolina Gamecocks 25-19, to move on to the Elite 8. On Sunday, in a rematch to rival, and conference champion Salisbury, they were unable to pull off the upset, losing to a very good SU team 48-14.
To close out the season, the women’s team elected to participate in the DC Furies’ Ruggerfest this past weekend. In a major comeback, ending the first half down 12-0, UMW was able to pull out the victory, beating UMBC 19-12 in the first game of the tournament. Their success continued into Saturday afternoon when the women defeated NC State 26-19, earning a place in the semi-finals.
The women’s team was unable to progress to the finals, losing Sunday to the University of Pittsburgh 49-7. Pitt went on to win the tournament, defeating GW that afternoon.
“It was nice to have a post season tournament where all we had to worry about was having fun,” said president Jaclyn Sherman. “It was a great way to end the season and get rookies some game time.”
All in all, the women’s team had a great season, making it to the Elite 8 for the first time since they won nationals in 2014.
“It was sad to play my last tournament with the graduating seniors. It was emotional. We knew this was going to be the last time this team would ever play together,” said junior Lani Budi.