College Rugby Championships Start Today

Six collegiate women’s rugby teams will be battling for the D-I and D-II national titles, respectively, this weekend in California.

Here’s a few articles covering the teams and related links. Good luck to all of the teams!

The official USA Rugby bracket pages are linked on the Saturday’s A Rugby Day sidebar, in addition to all of these participating women’s teams links …

Division I Collegiate Women’s Rugby Final Four

Navy
Ohio State
Penn State
Stanford

Division II Collegiate Women’s Rugby Championship
Plymouth State (only a team contact)
UC-Santa Cruz

Region Could Take 3 Crowns
Although much of the buzz in college rugby concerns a likely confrontation Saturday between No. 1-ranked BYU and No. 2 Cal for the men’s national championship, there will be three other titles determined at Stanford’s Steuber Rugby Stadium.

Northern California teams could win three of the four championships if Stanford’s women successfully defend their 2005 title and UC Santa Cruz defeats Plymouth State in the Division II women’s final.

Rugby is a club sport and is not a part of the NCAA, meaning teams have to fund themselves. USA Rugby runs the show from its Colorado Springs headquarters.

Stanford faces Navy in one Division I women’s semifinal Friday, and Ohio State plays Penn State in the other. Winners will play for the championship Saturday. The undefeated Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz, meanwhile, will play Plymouth State for the Division II women’s title Saturday. Northern Colorado faces the Coast Guard Academy for the men’s Division II championship Saturday. Stanford coach Jonathan Griffith said the Cardinal should be considered the favorite to win the school’s third women’s rugby championship. Stanford women’s rugby dates to 1976.

“I think we’ve got a technically and tactically astute team with a lot of speed,” Griffith said. “We play a very open, very fast, wide game. We try to play with what some would say is high risk. We try to avoid contact. We can move the ball.”

Griffith’s best players are flanker Victoria Follayan, flyhalf Jocelyn Tseng and outside center Olivia Anglade. Each has earned his praise.

Of Follayan, Griffith said: “She’s probably the most dynamic college player. She plays like a man; that’s the highest compliment you can get.” Anglade is a member of the U.S. World Cup team. Tseng was a basketball point guard at Palo Alto High School just learning the game but, “She’s the most complete flyhalf in the game at the moment. She has an array of skills,” Griffith said.

UC Santa Cruz began playing women’s rugby in 1982. The Banana Slugs went through the season undefeated behind Heather Beswick and outside center Daisy Parra-Padilla.

Coach Alex McKenzie, a UCSC alum, said his players love the physical contact rugby affords, a new experience for many female athletes.

“They love the physical aspect of it, the team aspect and the camaraderie,” he said. “We have a pretty aggressive defense and we try to control the ball.”

Here’s an article from Plymouth State’s student newspaper …

Women’s Rugby on road to championship
Perseverance, upsets highlight Florida leg of D2 Nationals
Canaan Siik
Posted: 4/28/06
Plymouth State University Women’s Rugby team traveled down to Sanford, Florida this past weekend to compete in the D2 National Rugby semi-finals. The girls were teeming with anticipation and prepared to play two of their biggest games this year.

Plymouth State arrived in Florida Thursday night to prepare for the two games they would be playing that weekend. The girls knew the only thing standing in their way to the national title would be getting used to the temperature and humidity of central Florida. Their first opponent, the Southern-Californian Claremont College, already had that to their advantage, and Plymouth knew they’d be in for a grudge match against the tournament veterans.

The girls came to the field rested, and hydrated to play Claremont. The game consisted of perfectly-executed plays by the back line, and Hillary Scheer came through with the greatest kicking game in her career, nailing a conversion kick and two penalty kicks. Though the back line didn’t get the ball very much being a mostly scrummie game, Scheer also had the chance to assist Jamie Howard in running a special 12 form play allowing Howard to score a try for the Plymouth side. Among other scorers of the game were Adrienne Acosta, who scored two try’s, and Meg Kennedy scoring in support. When all was said and done, Plymouth came away with the 30-20 win, sending Claremont into the losers bracket and putting the northeastern champs one step closer to the final stage.

Already a little battered and bruised from Claremont, Plymouth came to the field Sunday ready to play an even tougher game against University of Maryland, a school with the population of over 30,000 students who came ready to defeat underdog Plymouth State. The odds, however, meant little once play began, as Jenny Larochelle made apparent with an interception off Maryland’s offensive back line to score early. Maryland tried to come back strong, but Plymouth’s speed and ability to read their plays left the favorites stunned throughout the game. Among other scorers of the game were Ashley “Jack” Daniels, Jamie Howard, Kelly Williams and Adrienne “Ace” Acosta, while Hillary Scheer came through again with her golden boot to convert two more kicks. Plymouth still managed to perform excellent rucks and strong scrums against Maryland’s intimidating athleticism, only adding to northeastern team’s surprising display. Even Rene Llavoie played an excellent game for Plymouth, winning all of Plymouth’s line outs and much of Maryland’s despite injuries to her hand. Towards the end of the second half Maryland began to give up, letting Plymouth cap the 34-12 upset.

According to USA rugby officials, “Plymouth State wasn’t supposed to win.” Now, the small school from northern New Hampshire will move on to California to compete for the national title. Plymouth has proved that they are one heart, one team, and one family, and will show the west coast again just what Plymouth Rugby is all about when they compete at Stanford University in California next week. The final push for the championship begins May 5, when Plymouth takes on the University of California-Santa Cruz.

And Goff’s predicting Stanford and Penn State in the finals, with Stanford primed to take the crown again, while he says the D-II battle will be gritty (subscription required for both).

I’ll post scores, recaps, photos as I find them this weekend. And by the way, the photo I used is Ohio State’s new team poster they’re selling here. The Buckeyes’ motto? Whatever it takes.

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