Everyone should be paying close attention to the club UR Women’s Rugby team, as they recently qualified for nationals for the third year in a row.
UR has both women’s and men’s rugby teams, both club sports. That means they don’t have the same backing from the University as a collegiate sport and they requires some funding from the players themselves.
That said, they are still highly competitive and many club sports exist because the school does not have a program for them on a collegiate level.
The UR Women’s Rugby team, known as the Sledgehammers, is an active and dominant team. According to Coach Meredith Pyke, the team does not rely on individual performances but “play[s] together as a team, where each member makes a significant contribution.” The emphasis on team play is one of multiple keys to success for the Sledgehammers. Coach Pyke also stressed the importance of “focusing on the fundamentals” and “perfecting the basics of sports.” The duo of teamwork and fundamental perfection has become a deadly combo for the team.
The team showed their prowess on April 1 by winning the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) 7s Nationals Qualifying Tournament hosted at Colgate University. By winning the tournament, the team was instantly qualified for NSCRO 7s Nationals at Founders Field in Pittsburgh later this April.
Coach Pyke emphasizes that the team’s “big focus will be defensive play” and “ways we can turn over the ball or regain possession.” Coach Pyke also believes that the Sledgehammers “are a team that focuses on growth and development.” Sophomore winger Sophie Mackenzie agrees. “We are very supportive of each other and focus on team building,” she said. A supportive culture has created a close-knit and family-like relationship amongst the Sledgehammers.
It is not always such a serious time for the Sledgehammers. Mackenzie mentions that the team is “a funny bunch” who like “to be cracking jokes.” There is even a rumor that the team will be playing in prom dresses at the Ruck Rochester Tournament at Mendon Ponds Park on Saturday, April 20 starting at 9 a.m. Each team will be competing with different themed costumes, but it’ll be hard to beat the prom queens.
Women’s Rugby will be holding an April 12 fundraiser at the Wok.
The dates for nationals have not been released yet, but the Sledgehammers hope to continue their success from the season and step up to the challenge at the highest stage.