After winning the regional rugby conference last weekend, Wheaton’s women’s rugby team is headed to Cherry Hill, N.J., to go for the national championship on Sunday.
The team will compete in the National Small College Rugby Organization playoffs as one of the final four top teams across the country.
This past weekend, the team defeated SUNY Plattsburgh 58–0 and won the New England Empire Region 2 title to qualify for the championship. On Saturday, Nov. 17, at 12:15 p.m., they are scheduled to face Wayne State College in the semi-finals. The final championship game will be Sunday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m., with an awards ceremony to follow. The games will be streamed live online at NSCRO.org.
“This is the furthest our women’s rugby team has ever advanced in program history and the team is very excited about this opportunity,” says Steve Angelo, the director of club sports and intramurals who will accompany the coaches and the 30 students traveling to the tournament by bus, including Julie Stubbs ’13, rugby team president, and team captains Robin Bradley ’13 and Leah Smith ’14.
The Women’s Rugby Club is one of a growing number of club sports and intramurals offered at Wheaton. Currently there are 14 club sports, which provide team-oriented activities for students who may not want to be on a varsity team but seek fun, recreation and the thrill of competition.
“It has been such a great season this semester. Everyone on the team has been working extremely hard since day one and it definitely shows,” says Bradley, a biochemistry major. “Before our regional match this past Sunday, I said that I did not care if we won or lost so long as we played our best. We absolutely did and came away with a 58–0 victory over Plattsburgh.
“We are a team full of talent but also so much heart. It is a pleasure playing with these ladies and I am so proud to be a captain of this team as we make Wheaton history. I do not think a single one of us has stopped smiling since the final whistle blew on Sunday. We aim for the same result this coming weekend at nationals.”
Getting into the national championship is an amazing feeling, adds Stubbs, who is double majoring in psychology and anthropology. “A lot of us are still thinking, ‘How did this happen? Are we actually going to nationals?’ It’s crazy. This is a big deal because our team, founded in 1997, has never even won a conference championship, never mind gone on to win regionals and on to the national championship.
“After barely having enough returning members to field a team in the beginning of the semester (we graduated a lot of seniors), we were a little nervous for what the season would bring. Fortunately, we picked up a lot of rookies who were excited to play and eager to learn.”
And, what has been the secret to success? Hard work on and off the field and a very tight-knit team, says Stubbs. “These players are like my family and we always work to help each other and make each other better every chance we get. This championship is a direct reflection of how hard we have worked this year and we are more than excited to get there, play and show everyone what we’ve got.”
Photo by Charles Wang ’15
Robin Bradley ’13 runs with the Rugby ball.