Rugby ends fall season at semifinal

Women%E2%80%99s+rugby+fell+in+the+semifinal+match+to+long-time+rival+Quinnipiac+University+41-26.+Quinnipiac+went+on+to+claim+the+title.
Women’s rugby fell in the semifinal match to long-time rival Quinnipiac University 41-26. Quinnipiac went on to claim the title.

Women’s rugby fell in the semifinal match to long-time rival Quinnipiac University 41-26. Quinnipiac went on to claim the title.

Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Women’s rugby fell in the semifinal match to long-time rival Quinnipiac University 41-26. Quinnipiac went on to claim the title.

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Courtesy of CWU Athletics
Women’s rugby fell in the semifinal match to long-time rival Quinnipiac University 41-26. Quinnipiac went on to claim the title.

The women’s rugby season is officially over and the general feeling in the team is that it was one of the best they have ever had.

Although CWU didn’t win the national championship (they lost in the semifinals to Quinnipiac 41-26) they gave it their all, and bonded more than they ever have. CWU finished the year with an overall record of 5-3, ranked third in the nation.

Two weeks before the season began, the Wildcats were still without a coach in the wake of Mel Denham’s departure to coach at Harvard. With no one to replace her, the team was in trouble and players had to step up to help the team.

While the team did have help from former CWU players like Cassidy Meyers as well as coaches from men’s rugby, there was no central leadership. Men’s assistant coach Trevor Richards took the interim job just before the season began with Meyer coming on as his assistant coach.

“Even having an interim title, he was our head coach,” team captain Leah Ingold said. “We respected him, he respected us. And because of that, I think our season went really well.”

Richards has worked with men’s rugby at CWU in the past, various teams around the country and even some private organizations. He came onto the women’s team unexpectedly and on short notice.

“I came on so quickly that I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about what [the season] was going to be like. I knew the team was good and that we had a shot at a national title,” Richards said. “This is easily one of the best experiences that I have had.”

Richards is hopeful that he will come back next season to coach the women’s team, and has applied for the position. He is still going to work with the men’s team in the winter and spring, as an assistant coach.

“I will take whatever comes, whether it is with them, or getting an assistant position with the men.” Richards said, “I don’t know what will happen, but I would like to work here at Central.”

The semifinal proved especially challenging for the Wildcats. CWU was ahead by 12 with just over 20 minutes left of the game when Quinnipiac scored 24 unanswered points to win. Watching the lead slip away to a team that CWU had beaten in the regular season was, for senior Ashley Rolsma, the worst part of the season.

“It was definitely rough, heartbreaker loss,” Rolsma said. “Especially to a team like Quinnipiac who we have always had this sort of rivalry with… at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have wanted to play with any other group of girls out there, and I think that we gave it our all.”  

This was Rolsma’s last year playing with CWU, and short of winning the national championship, she felt this was a good final season.

“It was a great final season: the team and the coaching and how we played together how we dealt with conflict. I think it was a great way to finish my 15’s career.”

Ingold and Rolsma both agreed that the main reason that this season was one of the best was because it was fun. Ingold believed that is what rugby is for: an outlet to have fun. Being a student athlete is stressful, but going to practice should be something that players want to do, rather than something they have to do.

“There was a lot more joy brought back into the game with the team morale, the coaching. All of it combined. It was just a lot more positive and I think that really helped when it came to practices, because we would show up to practices ready for whatever.” Rolsma said.

Ingold believed that the bonding that the team went through this year was something that the team needed to experience, and because of it, the team played better.

“It’s different than previous years, I feel like there is a whole other level of respect and trust and compassion on the team, and you can definitely see it on the field,” Ingold said. “Seeing that come to life was the best part of my season.”

Due to the fun that Ingold had this season and the family bond that the team now shares, she is already excited for next season.

“I am ready for a comeback. It is our time to beat Quinnipiac,” Ingold said.

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Rugby ends fall season at semifinal