NUWRFC 7’s team claims national title once again

Norwich University was declared the USA Rugby College 7’s National Champion for the second consecutive year, giving the team its third overall national championship in one year. Guidon Editor Audrey Seman (GE) spoke with three of the members that traveled to Texas during the last weekend in November.

Emily Baugus (EB), 21, a senior construction and engineering management major from Kingsville, Texas is the captain of Norwich University’s women’s rugby 15’s teams. Rose Bernheim (RB), a 20-year-old studies of war and peace junior from Mountain Home, Idaho, was the 7’s team captain. Joya Clark (JC), 20, a junior criminal justice major from Scotia, N.Y. earned the honors of MVP.

Rugby team hold their trophy high.GE: What does it feel like to have won your third national championship in just one year?

EB: It’s amazing. Some of the girls have asked me, ‘what does it take to get a dynasty?’ and I said its three championships in a certain number of years, but since we went back to back to back, I think it’s ours. I think we got the dynasty. We see it a little differently than just winning three national championships. We see it as we have owned the 7’s world since its inaugural tournament, which was last year, and we were Number One and we ran over the competition and then this year we were Number One and we ran over the competition again, with an exception of Navy which was a great game for the championship. Little old Norwich, with 2,000 kids, is just running the 7’s world and it’s pretty awesome.

GE: The night you got back from Texas, you were welcomed back by the rest of your team, friends, and fans in Kreitzberg Arena. President Richard Scheider said that he received a note from General Gordon R. Sullivan asking what the ‘special sauce’ was that got the women’s rugby team to this point. What is that special sauce and how do you ladies do it?

EB: It’s kind of cool. One of the things we did before we left was, we’re at practice and coach told us to give our own two-cents about why we thought we were going to win this weekend. One of the things I said was that it doesn’t matter what sport we play. That’s one of the cool things about our team. We’re a bunch of athletes. I think it’s our cohesiveness and how we play so well together and we all have our individual traits that we bring to the field. Our individual traits don’t win the national championships, but our ability to mesh those traits do.

RB: I have mulled over this too. I have met a lot of teams that have the same heart and the same drive that we do. But I honestly think it has a lot to do with the upperclassmen because they set a really good tone. We have just really started taking it seriously.

Norwich women's rugby

Photo: © David “B” Bernheim

JC: We have the hard work and dedication. We also have the athletes to do it. Most of the other teams we play, besides Navy, they are all normal schools. You can tell that the military style schools are better because they are strong. We have that and the rugby skills.

GE: What was it like to have the scouts for the 2016 Olympic rugby team watching you and your teammates?

EB: We kept the team together. I was there for the other 11 girls and every one of those 11 girls was there for me. That was who we were there for. We weren’t there to go make the sevens Olympic team. No, we were there to go win another national championship. If one of us made it in the process, then awesome!

RB: To be quite honest, that’s not a goal for me. I am more focused on commissioning and becoming an officer. I am really proud of the way that some of the other girls played because I know that the seven’s coach definitely saw that, in particular Joya Clark and Ally Day. It’s awesome. If they don’t get invited to some sort of sevens camp, I will be shocked and disturbed.

JC: I am trying to play in the 2016 Olympics and that’s how I knew (receiving MVP) that I was going to be seen. I needed that MVP.

GE: You started your season beating Army and you close the semester conquering Navy. What is it like for Norwich as a military school?

EB: It shows the rest of the U.S. who we are and gives us that one little confidence boost, that I’m not exactly sure that we needed.

RB: It was really cool. I thought it was even cooler that two military schools, one just a military college and the other an actual academy, were competing for the national championship. Both of the teams were excellent competition. I think it speaks volumes about the type of people that go to those types of universities.

JC: Great because those two teams are the top of the block anyway. We told D1 that we’re here to play.

GE: What is Coach Austin Hall like?

Women't rugby team

Photo: © David “B” Bernheim

EB: Great. I have never had a coach like him and I’ve played for him for four years. Sevens is one of the best times we’ve had with him because this is his second year coaching sevens as well. His advice: you run the ball forward and you put it in the try-zone. When the other team has the ball you stay in a line, you make your tackles, and you prevent them from scoring until you get the ball back. He’s really calming and has a really different mindset for things. No stress from the sideline comes from him.

RB: He’s a cool guy. I love him. He’s so relaxed. He sits in the try-zone and when he comes to the huddles he say a couple of words about maybe something we can work on. The whole entire seven’s tournament he was saying, ‘you’re in your back yard, playing with your brothers and sisters having a good time.’ In practice, he’s all about coaching us and then come game time it’s all about us just performing. It’s really nice not having someone yelling at you.

JC: He’s very relaxed. He’s a fun coach because he doesn’t push us unless we need to be pushed. We can push ourselves and he knows what we’re capable of.

GE: Where does the team go from here?

EB: We get to take a little break over Christmas, but we’ll come right back at it as soon as we come back with 5 a.m. workouts. We don’t really have an off-season, we just have a mid-season. We’ll be stronger, we’ll be faster, and we’ll be fitter as the winter rolls around. I owe it to my girls to be in the gym all the time. It’s a D1 sport and we take it seriously. We don’t have a second to be behind. We’re neck and neck with these guys and it’s going to be who wants it more and who works it more, and believe me, we’re not going to be outworked next semester.

RB: The hardest part is not just winning once. I think the next thing for us is just play it game by game.

JC: This is the best group of girls I have ever played with in my life. Fifteen’s is my game. I love my job in fifteen’s. I am excited and our team is excited. As long as we stay in shape, it’s all ours again.

Women's rugby team

Photo: © David “B” Bernheim

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