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Women’s rugby team comes together in season opener

Sam Kuhn
Senior Sports Writer

The women’s rugby team had their first home game this past weekend, playing the University of Findlay on the academic quad on Saturday afternoon.

Although the outcome was not the one the Scots were hoping for, they played well given the level of competition and the fact that many players were in new positions for the first time.

The Scots lost 41-5 but made good progress throughout the game. They faced a big deficit but that did not stop them from converting on a try with a few minutes left in the second half. Coach Anne-Marie Brown said about their competition, “[The University of] Findlay went to the semi-finals at Sevens Nationals last spring, so they have some really good players.”

Vanessa Ortega-Ramirez ’19 started the rugby team last spring in an effort to increase the sport’s popularity in the Wooster community.

“The hardest thing about getting the team started was the negative attitude toward rugby and the lack of guidance,” she said. Ortega-Ramirez cited a list of interest, a coach, a list of officers, a waiver and a budget as challenging factors to consider when starting a club sport. She said the process involved guessing and contacting outside schools to collect more information. She cites the coaches as positive factors in that process.

“Luckily, I had a lot of luck with Anne-Marie coming to Wooster,” she said. “I think having her and Dean Brown on my side made it very difficult for the school to deny the sport with a trained coach at hand.”

Ortega-Ramirez noted that her motivation in bringing rugby to Wooster was to expose the community to the sport and to break stereotypes about dangers often associated with rugby.

“Rugby is no more dangerous than football or even soccer,” said Ortega-Ramirez.

Another motivation was providing a supportive community for women.

“Rugby is unlike any other sport in the way you bond with your teammates. I wanted girls to feel that connection with rugby and the team,” she said. “And if you ask the girls on the team now, even though most of the girls just joined a few weeks ago, they will tell you that we are a family and that we are extremely close.”

Paige McKean ’18, playing her first year of rugby, also discussed the idea of the team feeling like a family.

“I’m looking forward to being part of a great group of girls. We’ve only all been part of the team together for a few weeks but already have become like a family,” she said.

For the Wooster community, it is good to see a new sport get started, and even better to see the dedication of the team to their individual and collective futures.

Ortega-Ramirez continued, “I’m looking forward to seeing all the girls continue to grow in their skills. I am already amazed at how much they have grown in just a few weeks because I know that they will become great players, and I can’t wait to see them in a few weeks cause it will be incredible.”

Although the outcome of the game wasn’t the most desired, the players know there is potential within the group. McKean said, “I think everyone will get more comfortable with the game as the season goes on. We have a lot of girls who are new to rugby — including me — and I’d say everyone has picked it up pretty quickly.”

“The team has heart,” Ortega- Ramirez remarked. “Even when we were down we kept fighting until the very end. That heart was the reason we scored in the last minute of the game. We never gave up. Of course there is still room for improvement. I think we will definitely be working on our conditioning, our passing and our rucking. But I have no doubt we’ll get better with time!”

The rugby team will be back in action on Sat., Sept. 23 at home against Denison.

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