Girls’ rugby focuses on fundamentals to win


Connor Lawless

Freshman Colleen Mulligan avoids being tackled in a game against Weymouth. Mulligan is one of the new players on the team this year that is learning the rules as she goes.

Jenny Lambert and Ava Aymie

With many new players, girls’ rugby looks to improve their season as they focus on developing beginners and strategically winning as many games as possible.

With 39 girls trying out and no girls cut, this season there were enough players for a varsity and JV team, unlike seasons in the past.

According to coach Emily Philbin, learning the sport requires a lot of practice and skill.

“There’s more technique and safety [to rugby] than people actually see,” Philbin said. “[Rugby] really helps people to problem solve and think more about strategy. It is one of the most technical sports I have ever played.”

Returning players improve their own skills by helping the beginners learn.

“The older girls’ ability to teach the younger girls actually helps them to understand their position even better,” Philbin said.

Because unlike other sports there is no feeder program for girls’ rugby, not only do beginners need to learn the game physically, but they also need to strengthen their strategic and mental skills.

“I think for some people it can be scary because they don’t know what to expect and there’re a bunch of new rules,” sophomore Victoria Witkowski said. “I think people are intimidated when they first start because they aren’t sure what to do and how to react.”

The focus of most newcomers is to simply improve their game.

“[Being a freshman on the team] is nerve racking, but you don’t really know anything so you can only get better,” freshman Kareena Khurana said.

The team’s current record is 1-3. Throughout the season, the team has focused on improving both as a team and individually. According to sophomore Sarah Abouchleih, the girls work hard to hustle and tackle opposing teams. Each game, the girls strive to get a try: a way of scoring points in rugby, similar to a touchdown in football.

“Rugby is very aggressive and very fun at the same time,” Abouchleih said. “If you are all in and you have adrenaline, you want to tackle someone and get the try.”

The girls also need to be mindful of injuries while playing.

“Especially with girls’ rugby, the fact that its full contact with no pads, it has a new feel to it,” Witkowski said.

The team also hopes to raise awareness for girls in heavy contact sports.

“[Rugby] is just one of those sports that really is empowering,” Philbin said. “People say, ‘Can girls tackle?’ ‘Yeah girls can tackle, watch this!’. We had t-shirts made saying ‘Hit like a girl’. It’s empowering to show people that you can play this sport.”