Women's rugby team fights its way to the finals

BY: MCKENNA BOOTH

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Since it’s introductory season in 2011, the women’s rugby team has proven its members are nothing less than dedicated, committed and fierce. With many attempts in the past to create a women’s rugby team, stemming from the successful men’s rugby program, it finally succeeded. After the men’s coach, Kyle Quinn, reached out to the current women’s rugby coach, Brooke Basinger, the women’s team finally had a base to build off of. “With only a handful of players at its start, the rugby team began with small practices and used the Spring 2011 semester to introduce players to the game and to get people interested,” Basinger said.

In the fall of 2011, the club was formally created through the Club Sports and Recreation Department at CSULB. The team spent the 2011-2012 school year playing friendly matches and tournaments to gain experience and develop their skills. Taking this year to hone their abilities paid off. The team entered the Southern California Rugby Union’s D2 division for the first time in the 2012-2013 season. During the first year in the league, the women’s rugby program played in the Scrum of the Sea tournament, the biggest women’s college tournament on the west coast held in San Diego, Calif. The team finished with a record of 7-1 in league play and took second place. They made it to the top 32 teams in the country, which allowed them to play the University of Utah for a spot in the top 16. After travelling the many hours to Utah by bus, the team unfortunately lost the game. But that only made them work even harder and become even hungrier for victories. At this point, the team consisted of 38 players, an impressive increase from the original three.

The 2013-2014 season may only be the team’s second competitive year and second time playing in the Southern California league, but the trimmed down team, it now has approximately 26 players, has an impressive undefeated record, 5-1, with only two games left before Nationals, Saturday, March 22 at 10:00am vs UC Riverside, and Sunday, March 30 at 11:00am vs CSU Northridge.

The girls won the entire Scrum by the Sea tournament in November 2013. Not only did they beat their Division 2 rival CSU Northridge, who was the league’s winners last year, the women’s rugby team beat a number of Division 1 teams.

If the team wins the last two games they will head to the National Championships. And with the experienced players, including about eight graduating seniors, Melissa Campbell, Ashley Ramirez, Sam Innocente, Kristin Maruri, Sarah Heredia, Benigna Perraza, Emmy Neole, Sierra Yancey, the team is ready for the tough games against strong opponents.

USA Rugby announces the teams participating in Nationals and the locations where their pools will be played on April 7th. The first round of Nationals consists of 16 teams and will be played in multiple locations on April 25-27. The National finals will be played at Stanford University the weekend of May 9-11.

With Nationals at their fingertips, the women’s rugby team begins their next journey.