The UR Women’s Rugby team has qualified for Nationals, as the qualifying team for the entire Upstate New York division. The CT had the opportunity to talk with Captains and seniors Mae Jobin-Davis and Allie Bergman, current President and senior Lucas South, and incoming President and junior Anna Guo about the team 

What was it like to qualify for Nationals?

Bergman: It was such an amazing feeling to see all of our hard work pay off, especially after not being able to go the last two years because of COVID-19. 

Jobin-Davis: It is so exciting and so well-deserved. This team has a lot of rookies that have been working hard to learn the game and play at this level so we are so proud to qualify. Our national qualifier was at St. Bonaventure about two weeks ago in the snow, rain, and sun where both St. Bonaventure and UR qualified to go to Nationals.

Could you give a general recap of your season thus far?

Guo: Our 15s Season kicked off by welcoming 21 new rookies, who played like they had years of experience. Even though our team had a majority of new players thanks to COVID-19, our Coach B (stands for Bandanner, but her full name is Meredith Pyke) really brought us together so we could defeat SUNY Geneseo in our very first game, where one of our first-years, Kavira Musongera, was named ‘star rookie.’ In addition, senior Grace Mueller and alum Sophie Mackenzie ‘21 tied for vet. We met our match with Niagara, but succeeded in gameplay against St. Bonaventure’s Bonnies at what we thought would be our seniors’ last home game. Our game against Fredonia featured two things: rookie and first-year Sam Ellrich’s first two tries and lots of mud, but our win over them moved us up to State Semi Finals and eventually Regionals. It was more than chilly in Syracuse, with mud, snow, and rain, but we still had a blast. For the majority of the team, our fall season ended in Syracuse, but a few of our all-stars went on to represent N.Y. in Texas for the National All-Star 7s Tournament! The spring season welcomed the Sledgehammers to 7s, a variant of rugby with only half of our players on the field as compared to 15s. 

South: 7s are played with seven players and 14-minute games so this season is made up of tournaments around New York state. Our first outing was at the Brockport Scrimmage, where we fielded two teams and gained experience against SUNY Brockport and Geneseo. Our second tournament was our very own Ruck Rochester, which was planned by our fundraising chair, senior Edan Lambright! This was a tournament hosting 12 teams where every team dresses to a theme (we were prom dresses). We joked this was the biggest University Women’s Rugby tournament in the state. The day after Ruck Rochester, we competed at the National Qualifiers at St. Bonaventure. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain couldn’t stop us from handedly tying or defeating every team we faced in pool play. With a final victory over Niagara, we were sent to finals and ended up qualifying for Nationals. Plenty of college students from around New York State came to cheer on our players. Our final tournament was at Battle for the Border in Buffalo, N.Y., where we faced off mostly against D1 teams from different states! Leading up to Nationals, we have been hosting extra practices for our players to prepare. 

How has the group dynamic changed (if at all) in prep for Nationals juxtaposed with finals around the corner?

Bergman: As a club sport, we emphasize the importance of academics and work hard to support each other both on the field and in the classroom; one way we do this is through having group study hours. I love how academically dedicated our team is, and how we maintain our passion and drive for rugby throughout the season. It is great to see our team consistently give their all in preparing for Nationals, even in the midst of finals week. I think something else that has really changed the group dynamic is our current coach is leaving after this season is over. She has been the most incredible coach and really brought out the best in our team. I think we all really wanted to go to Nationals this year for her and all of our seniors.

Jobin-Davis: We are a pretty tight-knit group so making sure people feel supported on the field and at school is important to us. Since we only have practice twice a week, we emphasize making an effort to show up by being on top of your work so you can be focused when present. As we have gotten closer to Nationals, practices have gotten a little more intense skill-wise but the positive environment is always there. Although, with finals just around the corner, and COVID-19 cases so high, we have prioritized staying healthy and not overdoing it this next week. 

What does it feel like to spearhead a team to such a high level of competition? Has it changed your view of yourself as a captain or your relationship to your team in any way?

Bergman: It feels incredible to see how much our team has thrived and really come together. From where we were at the beginning of the season to now we have improved exponentially. I think the best part about being a captain is the connections that you see created on the team.

Jobin-Davis: It is such an honor to lead this team. We are lucky to have such a positive, dedicated group of people who not only love the game but enjoy spending time together. I have learned so much as a leader on this team. Becoming a leader during a pandemic was intimidating and a challenge to make sure the club and the supportive environment we worked hard to create, stayed. I learned that leading by example was the best way to motivate our team, which felt odd to have to be a little more serious during practice. It was also hard for me to find the right words to motivate our team during games so I appreciated first-year Frayda Lieber’s creative positivity that always has us laughing. 

What drew you to rugby (if you didn’t play prior to college) and what have you gained from playing on the team?

Bergman: During my first week of college, I was told by a friend that I should go to the first rugby practice because it had a lot of really amazing people on it. I was very intimidated by the idea of it at first, but I decided to give it a try. As soon as I got there and began to meet everyone on the team, I knew I was going to stick with it. The team has helped me grow my confidence in so many ways and allowed me to take on leadership roles I never would have dreamed of.

Jobin-Davis: My D’Lion freshman year played on the rugby team and encouraged me to try it out. I was looking for a community on campus and a way to get some exercise regularly. I went to the first practice and was very intimidated, but forced myself to go to the next practice because I loved how supportive the leaders on the team were for all fitness levels. I kept going because  the people were so cool, and I felt such a large adrenaline rush of being able to tackle people double my size. I learned that my body is physically capable of much more than I expected. I also learned that I love being surrounded by a very queer group of people. 

What has your favorite moment on the team been thus far?

Bergman: We have a lot of games during bad weather (hail, snow, sleet, rain, you name it). While I wouldn’t say playing in 30-below weather while being sleeted on is my favorite thing, I love seeing the team support each other in those moments regardless of the conditions. Whether it is doing the hokey pokey, singing as loud as we can or hyping each other up, everyone is always having a good time.

Jobin-Davis: My favorite moment on the team this year was when we qualified for regionals during our Fall 202115s season. The game was against a team that has a very strong program and is transitioning to D1 next year, St. Bonaventure, who we beat in a close game, 12–7 (with first-year Sam Ellrich and senior Edan Lambright scoring tries). Our team really came together and showcased all of the things we had been working on. With a mostly rookie team playing, it was a massive feat that was so well deserved. 

Was there anything you’ve taken away from qualifying for Nationals that you haven’t gotten so far in other competition phases as a player, a teammate, or a captain?

Bergman: I would say having qualified for Nationals feels really validating of all of the dedication our team has put in this season. It’s amazing to see it all have paid off and especially since it’s our Coach B’s last season with us, we really wanted to work to make her proud.

Guo: If you would like to watch us play in Pittsburgh and support us on our journey, follow us on Instagram at @ur_womens_rugby!



The Pawsitive Cafe, downtown Rochester’s first cat cafe

Peters and Denman live by the mantra, “We don't want to find cats a home, we want to find them the home.”

Burton’s chimneys are coming loose

Contractors have begun the work of removing Burton’s chimneys, causing six students to be temporarily relocated.

How to survive Thanksgiving with your family

At family gatherings, chaos is not a question of if but when. So how can you survive it?