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Women’s rugby takes advantage of spring season

April 19, 2018

Ann Basu
Worth a try: The women’s rugby team practices for the Polar Bear 7’s Tournament, its one home tournament during the spring season, which is a time to prepare for the fall and give new players a chance to gain experience.

The women’s rugby team won two out of three games at the Brown University Varsity 7’s Tournament to kick off their spring season. The team beat both Norwich and University of New England, but ultimately fell to undefeated Dartmouth.

According to captain Kendall Schutzer ’18, the spring season is brief but gives new players experience and learning opportunities.

“A spring season is super important in rugby,” Schutzer said. “Our spring season…really gives some newer players a lot more of an opportunity to get some contact work in.”

In the spring, the team plays games with seven on seven players, rather than fifteen on fifteen as it does in the fall. This gives new players an opportunity to gain more playing time and try different positions on the field.

“When we play, sevens are on the same size field as we are when we play fifteens, so there is no hiding,” Schutzer said. “There is a huge amount of growth for players that start in the fall—they learn so much in the spring. They get a lot more playing time and attention.”

Head Coach MaryBeth Mathews said, the spring season is also about teaching safety.

“The reason we play spring rugby is to get that additional experience for players who are new to the game,” Mathews said. “It is mostly safety driven—they need the experience because it’s a contact sport.”

Though there are fewer games played in the spring season, the range of competition varies more so than during the fall season said Vianney Gomezgil Yaspik ’18. In addition to the difference in competition, the games in the spring season are long at 80 minutes.

“In the fall we play against more teams,” said Yaspik. “There are some seven teams who are D1 that we play against. You have really, really good teams, normal teams like us, and some that are still just learning and playing.”

With many juniors studying abroad, Bowdoin has lost older and more experienced members of the team this spring.

“[The junior class is] one of our biggest classes,” said Yaspik. “We have two seniors, but all the juniors, except for one that is able to play, are gone. It is really a young team and that is why this learning time in the spring is so useful for them.”

Despite the lack of seasoned players, the team performed well last weekend at Brown.

“Today I was really excited to see that our tackling has really improved,” said Schutzer. “People being more hungry for the ball. A lot of people understanding a lot more of the strategy of the game has been cool to see.”

At Bowdoin’s fifth annual Polar Bear 7’s tournament this weekend, which is the only home event in the spring schedule, Mathews expects the team to continue its growth trend. Twelve teams will attend the tournament from both the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association and USA Rugby.

“I expect them to continue their learning and their growth, especially playing as a team,” Mathews said. “Since April 8, since they played at the Brown 7’s tournament, I’ve seen growth at every single practice and at our scrimmage last Saturday. We scrimmaged the Portland women’s B side. I saw some terrific growth. Everybody is learning and learning quickly, so I expect to see more of the same.”

The Polar Bears will play in the Polar Bear Tournament on Saturday at 10 a.m.

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