Two NU women rugby players compete on U.S. services team in Vegas

After their national recognition as athletes, two Norwich University rugby players were invited to be on the Women’s United States Combined Services Rugby Team which landed them in Las Vegas, Nev., on Wednesday February 6.

Emily Baugus, 21, a senior construction engineering management major from Kingsville, Texas is the all-time leading point scorer in Norwich history, and also serves as the captain for the 2012-13 Norwich 15s team.

Baugus was one of the two women from Norwich who had the opportunity to play in the Las Vegas sevens tournament. “It was my first time to Vegas,” said Baugus, “We showed up Wednesday afternoon, got settled into our rooms, and then we got to walk the strip.”

Norwich senior, Emily Baugus (center), gets in on the action in a game against the Japanese woman's national team. (Austin Hall Photo)

Norwich senior, Emily Baugus (center), gets in on the action in a game against the Japanese woman’s national team. (Austin Hall Photo)

The other NU athlete to participate in the competition was Rose Bernheim, a 20-year-old junior, majoring in studies of war and peace. Bernheim first started playing Rugby when she came to Norwich as a freshman and is now the leading try scorer in Norwich history.

Bernheim had been to Vegas before, but she said, “it was so long ago that it was still cool to see.” They couldn’t take in the full Vegas experience because later Wednesday evening they had a meeting where they met their teammates.

Practice started the next day for Bernheim and Baugus, where they would have just two, hour and a half sessions to work with their new teammates. This was all the preparation they had to get ready for the three games they had to play the next day, Baugus said.

“This was the first time we met these girls and after just two short practices we were thrown into three games in a row,” said Baugus. “And the teams we were playing against had just got done playing the World Series the past weekend.”

The Services Team was coached by Norwich’s women’s rugby coach, Austin Hall. The Combined Services’ team consisted of enlisted and commissioned members of all branches of military service. The team included players stationed from Alaska to Texas, from Hawaii to Washington, D.C. Both Baugus and Bernheim were eligible for this team because they both hold contracts with the United States Army.

“I didn’t start playing rugby until I came to Norwich, so Coach Hall has coached me since the start. It was nice having him as a coach for this team,” said Bernheim.

“It seemed fitting having a national champion women’s rugby coach of a military school as the coach of the US Combined Services Team,” said Baugus.

The tournament was set up in a round-robin style which allows teams that lost to continue playing. This was good for Bernheim and Baugus because their team lost all of their games.

Even though they did not win any games versus teams from Japan, Canada, and other international contenders, their spirits were high. “We gave them a run for their money,” Baugus said.

“We got beat, but it was the hardest competition I have ever faced,” said Bernheim. “It was so intense, but I think we did great for the little time we had to prepare and for how tough the competition was.”

They did a good job of keeping up in the first half against most teams, Baugus explained. Against Japan Seaside, the Olympic team of Japan, they held them to two tries in the first half and did the same against the United States Olympic Team, the Eagles.

“It was probably a once in a lifetime experience,” Bernheim said. “But if I had the chance I would definitely do it again.”

Baugus shared the same feelings. “I hope I can be invited back again. I liked playing with people I have never played with before because here at Norwich I have a specific role, but on a team like this I felt like a new player,” she said. “I’m expected to do the same thing as everyone else; you make your tackles and you move forward with the ball.”

Bernheim and Baugus both said they enjoyed the experience and hope to take what they learned back to the team here at Norwich, aiming to better their already great record.

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