Women’s club rugby creates memory of a lifetime, finishing fourth in nation

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Marquette women’s club rugby team at national’s in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Courtesy of Women’s Club Rugby Team)

If you asked the Marquette women’s club rugby team before the season whether they thought they would be ranked third in the country playing in the championships, the answer probably would be no.

“None of us thought that we would be here, none of us thought we would be competing nationally, we have to be ready to go out there and play our game,” Evelyn Mitchell said.

The team, which consists of 42 girls ranging from first-year students to seniors, went undefeated and shutout every team they faced this season.

“We showed up to our first game scared, we thought we were going to lose and we ended up defeating LaCrosse and that was the only regular season game that we got scored on,” Evelyn Mitchell, senior in the College of Health Sciences, said. “Then we got into playoffs which was tougher competition and we had to change our game up and work as a team and figure out where our strengths were.”

This past weekend the team competed in the National Collegiate Rugby tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee. Marquette finished No. 4 in the nation out of over 50 teams. This is the farthest the team has advanced since it began.

“It was a pretty tough tournament but it was a crazy opportunity with some stellar competition,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said during practices leading up to this weekend, the team worked diligently to improve their offense and holding possession of the ball.

“We got our rugby down, we know how to play rugby but now we are setting up a new offense to make sure we are ready for that competition in Tennessee because there are going to be good teams,” Mitchell said. 

The team loss to Life University Saturday 96-0 in its first match of the Final Four Tournament. With the loss the team then faced No. 6 seed Notre Dame on Sunday, and fell short loosing 42-14.

Andrews said those on the team, including herself, looked forward to the travel to Tennessee as they have not traveled this far for any competition before.

“I’m looking forward to playing really good competition and spending time with my team,” Angela Andrews, a senior in the College of Health and Sciences, said. “In our regular season we had a bunch of blow-outs so the farther we get, the better competition we’re going to play will make us better as a whole.”

Andrews said the lead up to competing in nationals has been full of memories and emotions from incredibly huge wins to tough and long practices.

Overall, Mitchell said the team has put an emphasis on making sure to build the team for future seasons of rugby.

“We need to grow our team and make sure that our young players get involved and get minutes in the games so they know how to play rugby and play it well,” Mitchell said.

Their goal to make a mark in nationals is to just play the game, and have trust in the offense and in each other,” Andrews said.

Mitchell said from being on the team, everyone has been able to create everlasting bonds with each other have pushed each other to work hard both on and off the field while while dealing with the challenges of being overlooked.

“In relation to school, rugby has pushed me to work harder. We don’t get the support from the school the way a D1 (student) athlete at Marquette does,” Mitchell said. “The work gets put in because we love the sport and push ourselves for opportunities like this one, to go play in the national finals.”

This article was written by Hannah Freireich. She can be reached at hannah.freireich@marquette.edu.