The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Women’s rugby has most members since 2019

Photo by Trebor Maitin for The Lafayette
The Lafayette Women’s Club Rugby team aims to teach new members about the sport while fostering an inclusive environment.

Thanks to the support of alumni, a committed executive board and an inclusive environment, the Women’s Club Rugby team has made a comeback this fall with the largest team in three years.

“The club is super fun and interesting, everyone is incredibly supportive,” freshman Avani Sukhtankar wrote in an email. “It is a fantastic community filled with wonderful people.”

The team holds official practice every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Metzgar with coach Rachel Riccardo, who has been with the team for 10 years.  An additional “captain’s practice,” led by seniors Cameron Cloud, Lindsay Morgner and Reilly Hughes, who is the assistant coach, is held at Anderson courtyard or the Quad at the same time on Wednesdays.

The team typically has five or six competitions each semester. The club’s president, senior Kate Weston, explained in an email that the competitions are typically round-robin, where many different teams are invited to one field and they all compete against each other throughout the day.

Weston explained that before the pandemic, the team would normally play 15s – games in which there are fifteen players on the field – and they would only play one team on a Saturday. The spring semester would then be their 7s season. Since the team and others in the area are still trying to rebuild after COVID, they have been playing primarily in 7s tournaments.

As with the men’s rugby team, most of the players are new to the sport and attendance was lacking after the pandemic. The team is finally making a comeback.

“Everyone has been so eager to learn and our returning players have been great with answering questions and fostering an encouraging and inclusive environment,” Weston said.

 The team held a tournament this past weekend at Metzgar Fields, hosting six teams from the surrounding area. Lafayette lost against DeSales, Franklin & Marshall and the combined Swarthmore/Ursinus team, but won 22-12 against rival Lehigh.

Sukhtankar wrote that this weekend’s competition was really fun, and the games catered to the large number of freshmen in attendance.

“The Lafayette rugby alumni were there too so they were teaching us about plays in between games,” Sukhtankar wrote. “Some other schools didn’t even have a full team so we would wear their uniforms and play for them. It was a good experience. I got to meet a lot of new people.”

“The alumni love the team and keep in great touch, and are always looking to help out or provide opportunities to a fellow rugby player,” Weston said.

The last game against Lehigh happened to be the best of the day, according to Weston.

Four Leopards scored a try, while the team had a conversion kick and prevented the Mountain Hawks from scoring by holding up the ball in the try zone, which Weston said is a very tough feat.

“It was great watching [Morgner] throw herself between the ground and the ball to prevent Lehigh from scoring,” Weston said. “Our rookies also all did great in the game, they were so eager to get on the field and play and we saw improvement from each and every game we played.”

Outside of just playing together, they have team dinners every day after practice and their coach hosts the team for dinner as well.

“The team dynamic is awesome. No one is treated like an outsider,” Sukhtankar wrote. “Generally the club is very chill. It’s a good way to exercise, and I cannot stress this enough, the people are fantastic.” 

Both Sukhtankar and Weston wrote that they hope the team gets the chance to play in a 15s match this year since the team finally has 17 consistent players, which is the most the team has had since 2019.

“I think it would be such a fun experience to get to play with nearly the entire team on the field at once,” Weston wrote. “It’s a completely different game than 7s and I think the new players who have never experienced it yet would love it.”

Weston emphasized the inclusive nature of the team.

“Even though by title we are the ‘women’s rugby team’, we have a number of trans and non-binary members of our team, and our primary goal is making sure everyone feels safe and supported and have a place on campus where they can thrive,” Weston, who initially didn’t intend on playing rugby when she came to Lafayette, wrote. “The team really does feel like a family, and it’s one of the things that I’m going to miss most about Lafayette when I graduate in the spring.”

The team will be heading to Scranton, Pa. to play Marywood University tomorrow at 10 a.m.

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About the Contributors
Caroline McParland
Caroline McParland, Sports Editor
Trebor Maitin
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.

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