Women’s rugby team takes home second championship

By on December 7, 2016
img_4925Erin Kane

The lower cafe was filled with spectators this past Thursday for a pep rally celebrating the women’s rugby team victory. The Quinnipiac Bobcats defeated the Central Washington Wildcats on Nov. 20 (46-24) in the National Collegiate Varsity Women’s Rugby Association Championship, guaranteeing their second consecutive national championship title.

President Lahey personally congratulated the players on their hard-fought victory through a Facebook post on the Quinnipiac University Facebook page.

“The team has demonstrated passion and talent both on and off the field, earning the respect of peers and rivals alike while bringing back-to-back NIRA national championship titles to the University,” he said in the post.

Karee Helgerson, a junior forward on the team, emphasized how vital teamwork was to clinching the championship.

“We have this amazing camaraderie that motivates us,” Helgerson said. “It was that common drive, the one we all felt so passionately about, that pushed us to greatness.”

The players were traveling every weekend and practicing countless hours during the school week. Helgerson praised head coach Becky Carlson, who was a constant motivator throughout the tumultuous season, especially against numerous rugby reporters who doubted Quinnipiac’s success time and time again.

Carlson addressed everyone at the pep rally, extolling her proud and hard-working players.

“The first national championship was historic for Quinnipiac, but the second was profound,” Carlson said. “Despite the lack of support, you proved everyone wrong.This was yours and yours alone.”

Taylor Schussler, a senior forward, described how many people never thought they had a chance at winning the nationals, but she never let it bother her.

“The negative coverage can be debilitating at first, but over time you learn to harness that frustration and use it as fuel on the rugby field, where it really matters,” Schussler said.

Many of the rugby players described their last game against Central Washington as a “climactic ending” to a hectic season. The Quinnipiac players commended their Washington rivals as worthy adversaries, which made the victory that much more triumphant.

Schussler said Washington proved to be more defiant than their first encounter with them back in October. In the end, the players’ commitment to one another pushed them through.

“It happened fifteen minutes into the second half. We knew we had the momentum,” Schussler said. “That’s when we all felt it: this is ours. It rocked our world.”

Helgerson explained how some games were more challenging than others.

“The Notre Dame game proved harder than expected and illuminated certain areas for improvement,” Helgerson said. “The game against AIC was challenging, but Quinnipiac proved victorious during the second half. We weren’t tired and the other team was, thanks to our practice and conditioning,” Helgerson said. “We gained possession and were just able to keep it.”

The Bobcats fought through odds and skeptics to claim another national title. Helgerson, who looks forward to one more year of playing rugby at Quinnipiac, is optimistic about the future.

“We’re pushing hard for a third championship,” Helgerson said. “Eyes on the prize.”

CORRECTION: Dec. 7, 4:29 p.m.

In the print edition of The Chronicle, this article mentioned that Lahey was in attendance at the pep rally. The article has been corrected to say that he was not a the pep rally and he congratulated the Women’s Rugby Team on the Quinnipiac University Facebook page.

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