Women’s Rugby looks to continue success in the spring season

The Norwich University women’s rugby team had a fall to remember by capturing both the American Collegiate Rugby Association (ACRA) and the USA College Rugby 7’s national titles.Now they’re pointing toward spring success.

The Lady Cadets were able to finish the fall season with a flawless 19-0 season, which included wins over rivals Penn State, and West Point.

“It was truly remarkable to end the season on such high note,” said senior captain Baylee Annis, an English major from Saranac Lake, N.Y., who plays prop and had a key role for the Lady Cadets this season.

“A lot of people were able to step up and contribute, especially the younger players. So it was nice to have so many people that can you can rely on the field,” Annis explained.

“This was actually one of our longest seasons since we traded conferences,” Annis went on to say. “We went from early August and I believe we ended the fall season right before winter break,” She said.

Prior to the 2012 campaign, Norwich made the jump from Division II to Division I, making their quality of competition a lot better.
Norwich had dominated Division II in the year’s prior and felt they were ready to take on a bigger challenge.

“The games were definitely a lot more difficult, we weren’t winning games by a significant margin like we used too,” Shanoui Gunn said when asked about the significance of the jump up in competition

Gunn, 21, a senior flanker and Newark, N.J. native with criminal justice and sociology majors noted that the jump to Division I also meant more training too.

“I noticed we put a lot more time and effort into our training and practices since we made the switch,” Gunn replied. “We were going up against bigger and better schools week in and week out so we always had to be at our best,” she said.

Schedule changes were made prior to the 2013 season. Previously, the national championships were held in the spring. But this year they were moved to December, extending the fall season.

“Playing rugby day in and day out was just exhausting, but it was worth it in the end,” said Emily Colesworthy. Colesworthy, 19, is a sophomore athletic training major from North Yarmouth, Maine, who is one of the starting centers on the championship squad.

“Usually the Rugby 7’s tournament is for the spring season, but they switched it to fall to include an additional tournament,” Colesworthy explained.

Along with the traditional 15 on 15 rugby games, there is rugby that is only 7 on 7. The 7’s games however, are a lot shorter and faster.

This spring will be the first time Norwich plays an all 7’s season since the 15’s concluded back in December.

“This spring we are going to be doing an entire 7’s season. We have never done that before so it’s going to be completely new to us,’ said Jacqueline Derocher, 22, who plays wing/flanker.

The senior psychology major from Northwood, N.H., says she is both excited and optimistic about the upcoming spring season.

“I am hoping that a lot of weekends in the spring will consist of us going somewhere and meeting multiple teams to play against one another,” Derocher said.

“We also have another 7’s national title to defend. So there will be a lot of motivation heading into the season,” she added.

Both the men’s and women’s rugby squads plan on potentially hosting a tournament here at Norwich this spring.

“I believe we are trying to have it in late March or early April, depending on the weather situation. It would be nice to play at home for one last time,” senior Baylee Annis said.

For the seniors who are set to graduate this spring, the accomplishments they have had over the past four years are nothing short of spectacular. They have stacked up a lot of great moments in the process.

“If I had to choose one favorite memory from my career, it would have to be the game against Stanford last year in the semifinals,” Derocher said while reflecting back on her career. “(Emily) Baugus kicked a game winning try while time expired,” she said.

“For me, it would probably be when we beat Penn State this year in the 7’s championship game,” said her teammate, Gunn, noting there was a revenge factor at play. “We lost to them last year in the 15’s championship, so we knew we needed to get back at them. All I cared about was beating them,” she said..

Both Rugby programs are set to retake the field for their spring season within the next few weeks. For the seniors, adding yet another national championship would be might sweet.

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