Facing many challenges this semester, the Bowdoin women’s rugby team hopes to focus on fostering community with their first years and strengthening their team both physically and mentally. Without training and competitions, one of the team’s top priorities is addressing the issue of race and equity in athletics.
In the first quarter of Sunday’s 27-5 victory over the University of New England (UNE) (2-6) at Mignone Field at Harvard University in Allston, Mass., the women’s rugby team did exactly what it needed to do to clinch its first Division III National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) championship game: go down by a try after the first possession.
After winning a tight playoff game against Norwich University this past weekend, the women’s rugby team turns its attention to this weekend, when it will face the University of New England (UNE) in the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) Division III championship game, hosted by Harvard University.
On September 7, the Bowdoin varsity women’s rugby team opened their season with an emphatic 76-0 thumping of Roger Williams University. For the team, one of the College’s most successful teams over the past few decades, these landslide victories have been somewhat commonplace.
The women’s rugby team (4-1) will host its seventh annual Polar Bear 7s tournament tomorrow. Earlier this month, the team competed in the NEC 7s tournament where they defeated UNH (34-10), University of Maine (19-15) and Wesleyan (32-15).
In the last decade, more out transgender and non-binary students have chosen to participate in college athletics across the country. In the last five years, Bowdoin has supported at least three athletes during their transitions and as they navigated joining new teams.
The women’s rugby team is continuing its tradition of excellence despite last year’s move from the NESCAC conference in USA Rugby to the more competitive National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) League. “We had been in the USA rugby pathway … and we had been in that pathway for many, many years,” said Head Coach MaryBeth Mathews.
The new assistant women’s rugby coach brings experience from both sides of the pond. James Read grew up watching semi-professional rugby at Havant Rugby Club in Hampshire, England, where he began playing at age 11. After playing for seven years at Havant, Read broke into the semi-professional world and competed alongside some of the same players he watched as a boy.
Pinned to every wall and corkboard around campus is a recruitment poster for women’s rugby, seeking members of all body types and every athletic ability. In recent years, Bowdoin’s rugby program has expanded, welcoming first years to the team even before they step on campus.
Last Saturday, Bowdoin women’s rugby concluded its regular season with a crushing 50-12 victory against Middlebury. A stellar defensive performance by Jackie Jacques ’19, who accumulated ten tackles throughout the game, highlighted the match. Satya Kent ’19, Kendall Schutzer ’18, and Elizabeth D’Angelo ’19, who each accumulated eight tackles of their own, supplemented Jacques’ defensive effort.
Since 2003, the Bowdoin women’s rugby team has led the way as the oldest collegiate varsity women’s rugby program in the nation and as a consistently strong contender in the league, meanwhile never losing touch with its club roots and embracing the inclusive nature of the sport.
Turning the tide. The baseball team (11-12, 3-3 NESCAC) is currently on a five-game win streak after sweeping its weekend series against Trinity (13-12, 3-6 NESCAC) and beating Thomas (3-25) 11-4 on Monday. Brandon Lopez ’20 was named NESCAC Pitcher of the Week this week after tossing a full game against Trinity last Friday.
Straight shutouts. The women’s tennis team is currently 10-2, 4-1 NESCAC after a 9-0 win over Connecticut College (6-5, 0-3 NESCAC) on Sunday. Despite injuries that have weakened the team’s roster, the Polar Bears have won three of their last four games—all dominant 9-0 shutouts—and are currently ranked fourth in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III poll.
This Spring Break, the women’s rugby team spent 10 days in France and Spain as part of its quadrennial international tour, funded by generous donations and fundraisers put on by the team. Since 1994, the Polar Bears have taken six tours and the experience has become an integral part of the program.