The St. Mary’s women’s rugby team, after a 4-1 season, finally made it to the top four in the Potomac Rugby Union Division II Collegiate Championships during the weekend of Nov. 5-6. The women’s rugby teams from American University (ranked fourth), Catholic University of America (ranked third), and George Washington University (ranked first) all traveled to St. Mary’s to participate in the championship. SMCM coach Dustin Allan said, “Notice how we are the only ‘college’ and not a huge university. Considering we were practically last place this time last year, I would say the team has come a long way. ”
The Seahawks, ranked second, defeated American 49-12 on Saturday afternoon, while George Washington won against Catholic on the same day. On Sunday, the two winners, St. Mary’s and George Washington, competed for first place, while American and Catholic fought for third place.
A good number of students and parents showed up to North Fields on Sunday afternoon to support the rugby women. Catholic clinched third place, winning 7-5 over American before the Seahawks played the top-ranked George Washington. George Washington gained a strong lead throughout the game, but the St. Mary’s women pushed back enough to gain 8 points before George Washington won 27-8.
The SMCM team’s captain, junior Grace Koplow, was pleased with her team’s performance. “It was an honor to play with one of the best teams I’ve ever played in any sport,” she said. “To be in second is a very high honor for this sport. It’s an exceptional win for us. We’re the first team to have a score on George Washington, and the first team to keep them under 25 points [difference]. We gave them a run for their money, and I can’t stress enough how proud I am of our team.”
“The team has been incredible,” added Allan. “We’re competitive. We could have won this game, but we never stopped pushing. I wish I could take credit, but it’s all the girls. They have literally played rugby four to six days a week, practice Monday through Friday and games on Saturday, in the rain, hurricane, earthquake, and tornado since the first day of school. They only canceled one day of practice all year and that was due to lightning. Everything was made possible by the unity, devotion, sacrifice and hard work from every member of the team. Everyone from the newest rookie to the most experienced senior played a part in this season’s success.”
Molly Ella Schoming, ’11, a St. Mary’s rugby alumna, attended the championship game and marveled at how close the rugby team has become. “When I was a freshman,” she said, “the team was nothing, there was no camaraderie. Now, everyone can count on each other. It’s a huge difference. To come back to campus and see this change is beautiful.”