The Vassar College Women’s Rugby team started off their Spring season over break with a trip to Spain to train and compete. The Brewers finished the tour with a 1-1 record to kick off their Spring and since then they’ve had two more games back in the States. They beat both Molloy College as well as Columbia University for a two-game streak and a current, successful record of 3-1 for the season so far.
The women began their trip with a rough matchup against the women of Quijote Rugby Club, also known as the ‘Dulcinea’. The Brewers faced cold, strong winds as well as some snow flurries to clinch a decisive 39-0 victory. This was their first match since the Fall season and the women came out quick-paced, scoring early and often with a total of seven tries for the game. By the first half Vassar led 20-0, and the women kept up the intensity for the rest of the match. Senior Nicole Guerrero and sophomore Meg Slattery both had particularly strong games but everyone contributed to the win, according to head coach Tony Brown. “It really was a team performance and each player had a hand in the win.”
The next game on March 16, taking place in Madrid, was against a large and strong physical matchup against the Hortaleza women. The game was incredibly close with the Brewers falling short and losing 20-22 against the Spanish women due in part to a controversial call during the last ten minutes of the game. Seniors Nichelle Jackson and Patty Walton both had strong games and pushed Vassar into an early lead. A series of quick penalties and a strong comeback left the Brewers trailing 12-10 at the half. They came out strong after the half with some strong play by Slattery and lead until the final minutes of the match when Hortaleza burst through and scored. The loss was tough but a real learning moment for the team.
The women started off their home schedule with a bang this Spring. On March 25, they had a decisive victory against Molloy College, winning 61-5. Both Vassar and Molloy were missing important starters due to illness and injury; however, the Vassar forwards came out fast and ready to score. Senior Shanaye Williams who did not travel to Spain started off the scoring and continued throughout the match, scoring three tries as did junior Forward Dallas Robinson. Guererro scored twice and was a strong impact player throughout the whole game. Junior Chelsea Boccagno and freshman Cierra Thomas anchored the Brewers’ defense with tough performances in the back.
The women played a strong, physical game on March 30 during their second match. They defeated the Columbia University women 30-19 to keep their perfect streak against the club alive. Vassar’s Rookie Lock freshman Darienne Jones had a particularly strong hit in the opening moments of play that set the tone for the match. Williams, Robinson, and Jackson were all strong at shrugging off tacklers in the team effort leading to the Brewers’ third win of the Spring. Senior Flyhalf Hannah Bober ’13 too had an incredible game. Columbia University did not score until Thomas was off the field with a yellow card and Robinson had to be taken off the field in the middle of the match with an injured ankle. Both senior Rachel Thompson and Sophomore Sophia Rutkin were big contributors to the win.
Much of the team cites their strong team dynamic as the catalyst for their recent success in Spain. Freshman Shira Idris in particular has been pleased with her team’s closeness in recent games and believes that it is has been reflected on the field with strong, cohesive play. “Overall, I believe that we play really well as a unit. We have a lot of strong physical forwards that dominate the field together. And we have really disciplined and speedy backs. Tony Brown is also a great coach that knows the game well and is really committed and dedicated to the game and the players.”
Fellow freshman and Center standout Nora Kaye agrees with Idris’ feelings on the women’s rugby team. According to her, the strong love and dedication for the sport tends to takes a central role. “There is incredible leadership and a lot of love for the game. The determination of the fronts and constant support from the backs makes you feel very confident when you step out on the field…there is a lot of focus and we are always pushing each other to be the best players possible…It’s a really wonderful environment on and off the field.”
Senior Laura Howard has strong feelings about her team’s camaraderie. Howard has been on the team since her freshman year and went to Ireland and Barbados with the team in recent years, however she did not attend the Spain trip. Regardless Howard has been an integral part of the team in her time at Vassar. “Th[e] camaraderie is very real and an integral part [of] the rugby experience, but equally important and sometimes forgotten, is the physicality of the game. The intensity and devotion Vassar rugby players commit..is…important. we put our bodies on the line every game…there is a spirituality/religiosity to rugby that does not often receive attention.”
The Brewer women will be back in action on April 6 when they take on Yale University. They hope to continue their recent success and looking forward to the next few weeks, they hope to win The Beast of the East tournament to top off their already successful Spring season.