The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Women’s rugby wins national championship

The club ranked best in the nation for the second year in a row
Women’s rugby took home the championship in Houston on Dec. 3. (UWEC Women’s Rugby Team via Instagram)

The women’s rugby club maintained their big reputation, following their second national championship in a row. UW-Eau Claire left as Division II champs after beating Vassar College at the National Championship in Houston,Texas on Dec. 3 with a score of 32-29. 

With such an intense finale and an exciting season, both players and coaches took time to reflect. 

“It can be overwhelming to think about 12 rugby games and all the expectation of winning each one. Whereas if you just kind of take on the step and just focus on what’s in front of you that those long term tasks don’t seem as daunting when you can just focus on what’s ahead of you,” assistant coach Rachel Lange said.

The season has been defined by several different challenges. Coming off a successful season, the club had to work hard this year.

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The club played against Cincinnati in the semi-finals and ended up closely winning 12-10. 

“So (we) make it to Houston and we were losing,” Lange said. “We were losing and down a player with no time remaining and then we ended up scoring on the last play of the game to win. That type of momentum really carried us.”

Now that the season is over, senior captain Kloee Chamberlain said it was a long road both physically and mentally.

“The hardest part this season was just kind of beating the mental part of the game, rugby is very aggressive, it’s hard and not everything is going to go your way, so just making sure you’re not in your head,” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain said one of the club’s strengths was the relationships they built. 

“We’re just so open about everything and at practice, we push each other really hard, but we also know how to have fun, and I think that’s why people also keep coming back because we just love to have fun with them. We just want to play rugby at the end of the day,” Chamberlain said.

Head coach Derek Wagner said this atmosphere led the team to great success.

“They were super, super focused and ready to go and I think that was a huge, huge key,” Wagner said.

Emily Martel, a third-year kinesiology student, said one of the season’s biggest challenges was the transition from the previous year.

“We had a lot of changes like we lost probably eight seniors, so those were big shoes to fill, trying to find out how things will work for us this year, that was probably the most difficult and we didn’t beat teams by 80 this year,” Martel said. 

Despite these challenges, the team managed to take home the Division II title.

“As coaches, you know during this weekend. I mean, compared to last year, the games were a lot closer. So, and that’s always fun to be a part of because, like, you know, you want games to be close. You want them to be fun. And I think all the players got to learn a lot about themselves and about rugby,” Lange said.


Leick can be reached at [email protected].

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