Women’s Rugby Heads to NSCRO Championships

The Charger Bulletin

Contributing Writer
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On Saturday, Oct. 31 at 11 a.m., the Women’s Rugby team competed for the NEWCRC Championship against Framingham State University. With the 17-12 victory over the Rams, the team earned themselves a trip to NSCRO Championships which will be held on Nov. 14. The Chargers will go head to head against the Nor’easters from the University of New England.

The Women’s Rugby Team (Photo provided by Annalisa Berardinelli)
The Women’s Rugby Team
(Photo provided by Annalisa Berardinelli)

Annalisa Berardinelli, the Rugby Club president, expressed her confidence in the team, but also admitted “this will definitely be our hardest game yet.”

With a win over the University of Maine, the Chargers would compete on Nov. 15 for the Regional title. If they too come out on top in that match, their next stop would be Charlotte, North Carolina, where they would play for a National Championship.

However, if the girls are unsuccessful in the Nov. 14 match, then they will compete on Nov. 15 for a constellation match, and their season will come to an end. In either case, the accomplishments of the team are to be celebrated.

The success the Rugby team has experienced this year is the result of hard work from a dedicated group of people, including past and present University students as well as members from outside the campus community.

University of New Haven graduate Sarah Alley pioneered the establishment of the Rugby Club in March 2014.

As she neared graduation the following year, underclassmen took the reins on the job and took the necessary steps to get the Women’s Rugby team recognized in the campus community. Among these students were Berdardinelli, president, and Rebecca Sicco, vice president.

At the onset, the club had Blue status, which was what every new club starts with. Berdardinelli, Sicco, and the rest of the Rugby Club board found as many teams in and around the New England area to compete against, and did so without any allegiance to a conference.

However, this changed this past fall, when the Club was granted Gold status and entered the NEWCRC. In order to achieve Gold status, the club must be running for two consecutive semesters, demonstrate their impact on the campus community, and be approved by the Undergraduate Student Government Association.

With this new status, the club received more funds from the University, which allowed them to get new gear, travel further distances for games, and purchase food for the customary socials with the opposing teams after games.

With an outstanding 6-0 record this season, the Women’s Rugby team has made a name for themselves on campus.

Berdardinelli admitted that the club relied heavily on recruiting this fall, in an attempt to prepare for the future and ensure the success of the Club for years to come.

Berdardinelli also said that the team owed much of its success to its coaching staff. Head coach Ray Peterson and assistant coach Alycia Washington have been integral to the team’s achievements.

Peterson was recruited by founder of the Rugby Club, Alley. An ex-player himself, Peterson is well versed in the sport and has travelled around the country to assist in the development of several universities’ rugby teams.

Berdardinelli expressed her high praise of Peterson, “He is all about teaching the right way of playing, the safe way, which is very important.”

Washington is another key component for the team. She has played rugby at the national level, competing as a member of the United States national team. She brings with her the new perspective on rugby, as opposed to the older one that Peterson gives. Both perspectives, though, are helpful and valued equally, said Berdardinelli.

This year, the team consists of forty girls from a variety of classes, with the senior class having the most involvement, followed by the sophomore class.  The team is led by captains Alyssa Berthiaume, senior, and Maria Albini, junior.

Berthiaume believes that much of the success the team has had is testament to the team chemistry that they have.

She said, “Rugby is all about support, both on and off the field, and if we weren’t as cohesive as we are we wouldn’t have done as well as we did this season.”

Albini, the other captain, agrees wholeheartedly with her co-captain. Albini is confident in the team’s chances on Nov. 14 and said, “When we aren’t practicing, we are at the gym working on strength and conditioning, as well as trying to get our mindset right.” With these two positive and dedicated leaders, the team is sure to put up a good fight in the up and coming match.