UR’s Women’s Rugby team, nicknamed the “Sledgehammers,” is not to be messed with.
Just last year, the group ranked fifth in the nation within the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO). This year, the team aims to make Nationals, an ambitious but feasible goal, given their continued success.
Coming off a win against Niagara University, the Sledgehammers knew they had to step up their game against rival St. Bonaventure on Saturday. Women’s Rugby President, senior Catherine Yip suggested that the team would need to play to their strengths of “speed and agility,” while also making sure to “spread out the field.”
Saturday’s game showed that the team’s’ practice had payed off.
After a final run down the sideline, the Sledgehammers defeated their opponent. According to junior Becca Silver, the results are due to the team’s newcomers.
“[We] nailed the recruitment and we’ve been able to keep building a stronger team,” Silver said. “We’ve been able to fill those holes and come into the season just as strong as we were last season.”
After graduating seven seniors last year, Recruitment Chairs sophomore Tor Breza and junior Ellie Sachse worked hard to fill the gap for the fall season. This isn’t always an easy task, as many people characterize rugby as a dangerous sport.
But despite that, Publicity Chair Gabriella Catera expressed that, for many, those stereotypes don’t dampen their passion for the sport.
“So many people have come into this team having no experience, or even athletic experience in general, and have fallen in love with the sport, myself included,” Catera said.
While many people considering playing rugby worry about the dangers, Yip and others echoed the importance the team places on the safety of each individual.
“We are committed to being a safe, fun sport that anyone can join, and each year we try and do a little better than the last,” Yip said.
As a new recruit, senior Carolyn John affirmed the commitment the Sledgehammers have to safe practices.
“The first thing we did at the first practice was learn how to fall safely.”
The Sledgehammers are committed not only to every player’s safety, but also to individual attention.
Before every game, each player sets out with a goal that they want to accomplish, and after, a “man and maid of the match” (a title for a team veteran and a title for a team rookie) are awarded to the two players who went above and beyond to achieve their goals.
The mix of individualized attention and team camaraderie is a hallmark of the UR rugby squad. Not only do they exude intensity, but the Sledgehammers find a way to create an inclusive and supportive environment that fosters realization of personal goals and team success.
With their recent victory against St. Bonaventure, the Sledgehammers will go into their last two matches of the regular season knowing that they have defeated their biggest rivals. The team is looking to win states and beyond.