During the women’s rugby (6–1) game against Vassar College (9–1) on October 29, flanker Kyra Bishop ’26 tallied 19 tackles, a try and two conversion kicks. Although the team suffered a 26–19 loss, Bishop had one of her best showings in what has been a successful rookie season. Despite having to learn a new position, Bishop has thrived this year and been a major driver behind the Polar Bears’ success.
Bishop’s 19 tackles were the most in a single game by a Bowdoin player this season, and her conversion kicks were the first two she had ever attempted. She says she was shooting for 20 tackles but fell only one tackle short.
Bishop began playing rugby in middle school and continued throughout high school, where teams played in small-sided matches with seven players on each team. However, she says that collegiate rugby is substantially different because teams play with a full fifteen players.
“I played throughout high school and a little bit in middle school, but I played mostly sevens. I hadn’t played in a full fifteens game ever,” Bishop said.“It’s definitely a big change, but I think it suits my play style very well.”
During her senior year in high school, Bishop joined a semi-professional women’s rugby team. She believes her experiences with that team helped her acclimate to rugby at Bowdoin.
Bishop always knew she wanted to play collegiate rugby. Initially, she had planned to attend Dartmouth College, but then she talked with the Bowdoin coaches. She said her communication with them was very positive and made her excited to attend Bowdoin and join the team.
Now, Bishop plays the openside flanker position. Since she has never played the position before, she has focused on learning and refining her skills in the position. Her strategy is simple.
“The mindset is just to hit people really hard and run hard, too,” Bishop said.
The team’s loss to Vassar ended a 17 match-winning streak that began in October 2019. The Polar Bears have won the past two National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) Division III National Championships.
Bishop emphasized that the team’s culture is what makes it so successful.
“It’s a really great group of girls, and every day going to practice, I just feel lucky to be on the team,” Bishop said.
Bishop is also very excited about the team’s long-term potential.
“Our upperclassmen are pivotal to our success, but there’s not a lot of them. There was one junior and one senior starting against Vassar. Thinking about where we are now and where we can go together is a really exciting prospect,” Bishop said.
In her next three years at Bowdoin, Bishop wants to win a national championship while continuing to develop as a player and a leader.
“I feel like as I get older, I will be put in more positions of leadership on the team. Right now we have some amazing leaders, and I feel like they are going to leave some big shoes to fill. Hopefully, I can rise to the occasion and be a great leader on the team as well,” Bishop said.
Bowdoin is the first seed in the NIRA Division III championship tournament and will play Castleton State tomorrow at Pickard Field. Bishop says the team is ready to get back out on the field to prove itself.
“We have had a really focused week of practice, and I’m expecting big results for Saturday,” Bishop said.