Women’s Rugby advances to national tournament

After beating top seed University of Maine Orono (UMO) 38-22 last Saturday, the Colby Women’s Rugby Football Club (CWRFC) won their conference and qualified for their first USA Rugby DII National tournament. After losing only one game this season—against UMO, 17-5 in the season opener—CWRFC has jumped into uncharted territory.

Colby had a strong season, showcasing their talent in defining wins over competitive teams Tufts and Middlebury. The Mules beat the Jumbos 38-12 and defeated the Panthers 27-0. After a bye weekend over Parents’ Weekend, both Connecticut College and Williams College forfeited. However, Colby was able to play informally with Connecticut College and scrimmage against Bowdoin’s B-Side.

The Mules kept their winning streak alive with a 36-19  win over in a nonconference game against Franklin Pierce on Halloween weekend.

The depth of Colby Women’s Rugby posed a huge threat to their rivals UMO to take the NESCRC title. After losing to UMO earlier in the season, CWRFC was ready for a rematch.

Tufts hosted the NESCRC playoffs on Saturday, with Colby and UMO playing before #3 Middlebury took on #4 Tufts. A hard fought game resulted in an impressive Colby victory.  Scores by Elissa Guerra ’18, Deanna Morris ’17, Hannah Kwasman ’17 (three), and Jess Edlund ’18 alongside conversions by both Kira Brown ’18 and Anna Donovan ’17 helped seal the conference win for the Mules.

This was the first year CWRFC had qualified for the national tournament. Maggie Burgos ’17 said that because “this is the farthest [sic] CWRFC has ever gone, it feels amazing because we’re part of the history of this team in a big way.”

Multiple players explained the success as a mix of experiences players working together and quick-learning new players adding in. Co-captain Burgos said that coming into the season the team “saw the opportunity to come into our league and just be like a brick house of rugby.” She explained that, “This season has been the culmination of a lot of really hard work from both experienced and less experienced players who have taken to the game and the spirit of this team.” Donovan agreed, saying, “we have a lot of experienced players who work off of each other and a lot of new rookies who have picked things up really quickly.”

Kwasman, an outside center, said “I’m proud how we came together and were there to support one another on the field.” But Saturday’s game is was not a fluke. CWRFC has been developing as a program, Burgos explained. “We can incorporate a mix of players who feel completely new to this sport, bring them in, and then bring them to a level where they can be successful on the field. I think it demonstrates how strong we are as a program for teaching people rugby, specifically women’s rugby,” she said.

However, the team is rooted in much more than just unified play. It is their familial attitude off the field that propels this specific squad to success. Katie Kelley ’20, a fly-half and scrum-half hailing from Minnesota, said that “coming to Colby and immediately having a group of people to be a part of completely changed my freshman experience. It made the transition to college so much easier. I love my rugby family.”

Burgos agreed, stating that on the team “there’s such a culture of mutual respect, such a desire to have fun and love what you’re doing.” She explained that the one constant she’s felt on CWRFC was being “empowered by the love and support that is shared by the team.”

The team takes on State University New York Albany (SUNY Albany) this Saturday at 2 P.M. at Colby on Loeb’s field.

However, SUNY Albany is not an unknown team. Colby lost to SUNY Albany 29-0 in the Beast of the East Tournament last April, where they played up a division. The team doesn’t seem scared. Brown said, “I’m so proud of the team for stepping up and coming together to get us to this point…We’ve come such a long way and I’ll be proud no matter what.”

Whatever the result of their game this weekend, CWRFC has proven to be a force on and off the field.