Women’s rugby close to undefeated season

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Photo by Marquette Women's Rugby

This Saturday Marquette’s women’s rugby football club will look to accomplish something for the first time in over a decade — an undefeated season and first-place position in the conference for the playoffs.

At 5-0, Marquette Rugby has already clinched a spot in the Great Waters Women’s Rugby Conference playoffs on Nov. 6 in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. With a win at Illinois-Chicago, they can guarantee they’ll be the one seed in the four-team playoff as the only undefeated team.

Senior and club president Molly Kraft and sophomore Amber Zander emphasized how far the team has come in success in just a couple years.

“I’m really excited that we’re doing so well. When I joined my freshman year, we didn’t win a single game,” Kraft said. “So it’s a huge, huge turnaround from where we started.”

“I had never played before in my life and had just done it because I like contact, and now we’re winning,” Zander said. “To hear that it wasn’t so good and because of the new people and new coach and the way everything’s turned around and the way we can work together now that’s causing us to win is pretty great.”

Team captain and junior Missy Warren admitted she was already feeling some nerves for their big tilt with UIC this weekend, but regardless of outcome is proud of the way the team has improved this season.

“I knew going into the beginning of the season we had a stronger team than we’ve had in the past years, but we’ve just improved by so much and we’ve been able to play as a team and that’s our biggest strength,” Warren said. “It’s just going in, playing our hardest, playing together and never giving up, as cheesy as that sounds.”

“At the beginning we weren’t very competitive, we weren’t very good which was frustrating to me because I wasn’t used to that. But as the club has progressed and we’ve gotten players who are dedicated to being here, it’s an incredible turnaround.”

The team talked about an increased focus on the fundamentals of the game as reasons for the improvement. A majority of the players had zero experience with rugby but the team was welcoming to everyone and willing to teach the basics of the game and find a spot for anyone willing to put in the effort.

“I think that’s one of the best parts about rugby, is that no mater who you are, how you’re built, there’s a position for you,” Kraft said. “You honestly just have to be willing to put yourself out there and try it.”

The team points to their tight-knit relationship as a team and think that camaraderie will be key come playoff time win or lose.

“Another aspect that’s changed is we do a lot more team bonding outside of practice which I think is really important to build up that rapport with each other,” Kraft said. “Being able to communicate on the field so well is because we have a really good relationship off the field.”

“The way to describe rugby is it’s a hooligan’s game for gentlemen, that’s the old saying as it goes, and I think that describes us all pretty well,” Zander said.