Women’s rugby tackle nationals

UW-Eau Claire women’s rugby team set to wrap up season at national tournament in New Orleans

Sam Johnson

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How to: summer
May 14, 2022
The+team+is+mostly+rookies%2C+but+veteran+leadership+has+helped+its+success%2C+according+to+Hamilton.

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The team is mostly rookies, but veteran leadership has helped its success, according to Hamilton.

The rugby team followed up its fall season — during which they placed No. 8 in the nation, according to ncrugby.org — with another nationals placement and only one loss, according to Abbey Jacobs, third-year physical education student and club vice president.

Jacobs said the team is mostly rookies. 17 players on the roster played rugby for the first time last fall, and on May 28, they’ll be competing against the best teams in the country at the “May Madness 7s” in New Orleans, La. 

While most of the team has a season under their belts, Jacobs said the spring season is a new experience for rookie players.

“Spring is 14-minute games with seven players on the field,” Jacobs said. “Fall is 80-minute games with 15 players.”

Cerys Ridd, a first-year exercise science student, said the team’s culture is one aspect that leads to success on the field.

“It’s how close we are as a family,” Ridd said. “That helped a lot of us.”

Jacobs said the team’s bonding off the field is one of the best parts of playing rugby.

Emma Hamilton, a first-year business undecided student, said joining rugby gave her a chance to meet new friends and mentors in the veteran players.

During the spring, Hamilton said reaching out to her teammates and learning the game from them, and believes it’s helped the team’s success.

This season, according to Jacobs, the team suffered one loss in more than 20 games, falling to UW-Stevens Point in UW-Eau Claire’s home tournament. 

Other than that tournament, during which Jacobs said the team was down some of their starters, the team placed first at every other tournament and is now preparing for a trip to New Orleans.

Hamilton said the preparation is mostly business as usual, but there’s a higher emphasis on conditioning and running this season than in the previous one.

According to Jacobs, the team is focused during practice but isn’t looking to change anything. 

“We’re doing our regular practices, three days a week,” Jacobs said. “The warm weather is nice because we were worried Louisiana would be a big adjustment.”

Off the field, the team has been doing fundraisers, according to its Facebook page. Jacobs said the trip to nationals will be expensive, so finding help through Gofundme and Culvers is beneficial to the team.

The season has led to team accomplishment, but also individual success, Jacobs said. Several players have been invited to compete with select teams, and Siusie Dawson, fourth-year club president, was awarded All American by National Collegiate Rugby.

Before nationals, the team has several weeks without tournaments. According to its Instagram page, its last scheduled event was an alumni game on May 7.

The national tournament is May 28-30 and is “the largest collegiate 7s national championship tournament,” according to its website.

UW-Eau Claire will be facing off against teams from all around the country, with their first match scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 28 against Kutztown University from Pennsylvania.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected]