Women’s Rugby wins tournament to take division title

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The women’s rugby team poses after their tournament win. (Photo Courtesy of Andrew Bullock)

AJ Traub

The women’s rugby fall season came to a close with the team taking 1st place at the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union (EPRU) Tier Two Tournament.

The team made it into the playoff rounds by earning a 1-1-1 (W-L-T) record in the early play of the Oct. 28 tournament. The three games were just 25 minutes long, as opposed to much longer season games.

“I think one of the issues is that in an 80-minutes game, you have a lot of time to warm up in the game,” junior prop Fayola Fair said. “But playing 25-minute games until the last two, we didn’t have time to warm up, and we did that really well. For a while we were playing more individually, but as we went on, we played more as a team.”

“Once I got my first tackle in, I felt at home. I felt ready. I don’t feel like I played until I tackle someone. I was really proud. We were completing tackles, talking on the field and not being intimidated,” Fair added.

“And Fayola can tackle,” senior co-captain and scrumhalf Ashley Rodriguez said.

The team advanced to the finals by taking down DeSales University’s squad, a team they tied in both their prior matchups.

“We tied with DeSales in our league game a few weeks before that and tied with them in the seeding game,” Rodriguez said. “When we played DeSales in that playoff game we played hard. We had every intention on making the finals, but when we beat them, it was more like we passed them in a way. We officially beat them. It gave us the uplifting of spirits to play Neumann in the Championship game.”

In the championship game against Neumann, Lafayette struck early, recording a first-half try (5 points).

The team went on to record two more tries in the second half, shutting out Neumann along the way to win 15-0. Two years ago, in the same situation playing Neumann in the championship game, Lafayette was defeated 44-0.

“For me and a few others who we played with, the first time we went against Neumann was our freshman year, so it was very emotional,” Fair said. “For a lot of us, that was the first season playing rugby, being completely blown out of the water by them. Coming back and putting in all the work and effort to come and shut them out 15-0 felt cyclical. It was a satisfying end. To see how we had improved. To shut them out, that’s a team effort.”

“As a team we saw our teammates put themselves fully into the game. I think we really put in our heart and our spirit,” she added.

One of the factors in completing the upset was the way the team operates together.

“Definitely what I like is that our team dynamic is family-oriented,” Rodriguez said. “What’s really important about our rugby team is that we constantly support each other. We’re not just a club sport, we’re a family. What fosters that is our coach. We’ll have a team brunch. [Head Coach Rachel Grispon] brings her husband [John] who is our assistant coach and brings her daughter to games. She holds award ceremonies each semester to give out team awards.”

“We developed as a family while at the same time developing as a team. We all value each other as more than just a teammate,” she added.

Lafayette women’s rugby will return for a spring season, but in 7 vs. 7 games rather than the fall 15 vs. 15. Rodriguez said the key to competing well in the spring is to build up endurance.

“I have high hopes for spring,” she said. “I think we’re going to do well, but with some players going abroad and seniors graduating we are always recruiting. Even though the rules are the same, we’re playing on the same field with just seven people, so we have to cover more space.”