The Lafayette women’s club rugby team wrapped up their spring season with a 2-1 record at the Beast of the East tournament last weekend in Portsmouth, R.I. After winning twice on Saturday, the Leopards were placed in the highest bracket for tournament play on Sunday and lost in the first round after losing key players to injury, according to senior Amelia Williams.
“Rhode Island was definitely one of the highlights of the year because it was such a great bonding experience,” said senior Reanna Kier. “We ended up playing the best games we’ve ever played between both last semester and this semester.”
The tournament comes after the team faced Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union (EPRU) competition last weekend. Senior Fayola Fair said it was a challenge for the team adjusting to new opponents and strategies from different rugby programs, as well as playing with 15-player teams instead of the usual sevens.
“To be able to play teams we’ve never played before and to really step up was a lot of fun,” said Fair. “We had really no expectations, we just want to go and have fun and play rugby.”
“I was really proud of our team,” she added.
In the Leopards’s first game against Mount Holyoke College, the team picked up a 7-0 win thanks to a try (worth five points) by sophomore Jerri Norman and a conversion kick (worth two points) by freshman Elise Hummel.
“During the first game we just played and fought really hard and realized that we actually did have a shot at winning,” said Kier.
The second match of the day was against Fordham University, and resulted in a 22-5 victory for Lafayette. Junior J’Nisha Little tallied two tries for 10 points, while Williams and Norman both scored tries, and Hummel added another conversion kick.
“These were some of the best games I have played in my college career,” Williams said.
The weekend tournament was the last time for the seniors to take the pitch with the team, a fact that was not lost on the players.
“We came into every game [Saturday] with lots of energy,” said Kier. “We wanted to give it our all, especially the seniors since this was our last tournament.”
After advancing to the highest bracket in tournament play on Sunday, the team faced State University of New York (SUNY) Oneonta and lost 22-5 with the lone try courtesy of Little. The loss ended the season for the Leopards, but there were positive takeaways for the team members despite that.
“[The weekend is] filled with rugby where you learn a lot about each other, the game, and you get to meet other teams from neighboring states,” said Kier. “The young [players] will definitely look forward to this tournament every year.”
Fair noted the close relationships on and off the field as a key to the teams’ success this season, and hopes that the younger team members will remember that it takes time to develop as rugby players.
“I think the reason we play so well is because we have such strong chemistry,” Fair said. “Just remembering that we are a family and that we care for each other.”
“I hope the young players take everything rugby has taught them everywhere they go,” Kier added.
Although the season is over, the team will host their annual Alumni Game at the Metzgar Fields Complex next Saturday, April 27.