Photo by Kaylee Pugliese
By Andrew Hart | Herald Contributor
National champions in 2007 and 2014 and Beast of the East winners in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Those are all the accomplishments that Roger Williams University women’s rugby has earned since the program’s founding in 2007, all while being a club sport. When asked what the secret to their success has been throughout the program’s history, junior captain Loren Sullivan doesn’t point to a single aspect, but instead many.
“There is no one key secret. Practice, unity and communication are huge factors for us on and off the field. Many of the girls hang out outside of practice or game time, we go to the gym together, we help each other, we are a family,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan points out that although it may sound cliché how the team is like a family, she says “there is a bond that is formed when playing on the field that follows us even off of it.”
This feeling of family can be attributed to the situation that players are put in when they first start.
“Everyone who comes out for the team has never played rugby or really knew much about it,” Sullivan said.
According to Sullivan, the team is able to keep things simple, which helps the newcomers adapt to the game quickly.
As for the team’s transition from being a club sport to varsity next year, Sullivan says that the mood of the team hasn’t really changed.
“We know change is coming in the near future, but as of now we are focusing on this season. We want to go out, do our best, and make our last year as a club sport count,” Sullivan said.
How exactly are they going to make this last season as a club sport count? By not changing the way they approach each season, Sullivan said.
“We work our butts off to win championships. Like most teams, we want to win. To do that we put the time and effort in, whatever happens as a result of that is what motivates us to do better the next time around,” Sullivan said.
Finally, Sullivan said the team has gained more interest in recent years.
“As for our fans, a lot of people come up to me and say how much they wish they could play but are too worried about getting hurt,” Sullivan said. Her solution to the concern is “just try it. You’re only hurting yourself by not trying something new.”
After all, Sullivan went on to explain that rugby is the fastest growing sport when it comes to collegiate and high school levels at this very moment. She also explained how the culture around the sport is “amazing.”
“Even off the field we continue to support one another,” Sullivan said.
The friendships formed in the sport extend far beyond after school ends. Finally, Sullivan said that worldwide, the culture around rugby is that “no matter where you go, most people know and understand the sport, so it is a great bonding experience.”
As of now, the women’s team sits at 1-2 on the season. The Hawks opened the season with a strong showing over Merrimack College, but fell to Stonehill College in a tightly contested match, and Boston College the past two weekends.
RWU looks to rattle off wins in the coming weeks by relying on their tireless work ethic, team chemistry, and support from fans, which has carried them to the success that they have achieved thus far. The Hawks will play their next match against Bryant University at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 in Bristol.