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Freshman Layla Scott has made an early mark with the Quinnipiac rugby team
Although to many, the aggressive and physical sport is not thought of something that has a presence in the United States, that is not the case at Quinnipiac University. The predominantly-foreign sport has assimilated into Bobcat culture and continues to gain popularity, and for good reason.
The Quinnipiac rugby team has emerged as one of the top women’s programs in the country, winning a national championship in each of its past two seasons.
As the Bobcats continue to gain attention for their winning ways, it is vital that they continue acquiring prized recruits to come to the school in order to keep the winning tradition alive. Head coach Becky Carlson has excelled in recruiting, bringing in another strong freshman class, who have contributed a lot to the success of the team so far this season.
One freshman whose impact on the team has been extremely significant both on and off the field is Layla Scott, a charismatic center from Oakland, California. She has four tries this season for a total of 20 points. Scott has also proven to be a disciplined player, not recording any penalties.
Carlson knew that Scott was a can’t-miss prospect the first time she saw her play.
“What interested me most was that every time she got close to the try line she had her eyes up,” Carlson said when talking about her first impression of Scott. “She was quick, had good agility and had only been playing rugby for a few months, so I felt that we could make her into something.”
Having her eyes up is something that Scott grew accustomed to before playing rugby, as she was a basketball player for most of her life. In fact, as Carlson stated earlier, rugby is something that she only took up in her senior year of high school.
“My senior year I didn’t make the varsity basketball team, so my government teacher at the time was also the rugby coach, so he told me to come out and try rugby,” Scott said. “It was cool, so I decided to keep playing, and now we’re here.”
Even though Scott is no longer a basketball player, she still recognizes that having experience with the sport has helped her pick up rugby quickly.
“In basketball, you have to be quick, move with and without the ball, and make split second decisions,” Scott said. “Having good hands, reading the defense for interceptions and deflecting passes are all of my basketball skills that transfer to rugby.”
Her most notable performance came against the University of Norwich on Sept. 17 when she led all point-scorers with three tries, helping the Bobcats to a 52-7 win over the Cadets. In regards to her playing style, Scott could be described as the team’s version of the energizer bunny, as she is always playing with a lot of intensity and explosiveness.
Having great speed, agility and overall athleticism is certainly vital in Scott’s production on the field, but that is not what she feels separates her from other players.
“I have a lot of hustle and heart so I always want to win and push my teammates on and off the field,” Scott added. “I have confidence in myself so I know what to do and where to go on the field. Practice and repetition helps my confidence on the field.”
This competitive spirit has been contagious throughout the entire team, as it has a record of 6-2 and a perfect 4-0 at home. The Bobcats are entering crunch time of their season with a crucial regular season game against American International College before getting ready for the NIRA tournament, where they look to capture their third national title in program history.
While it may seem out of the ordinary that Scott, a native of California, chose to play at Quinnipiac instead of a school closer to home, that is not the case.
The Quinnipiac women’s rugby team is one of the most diverse teams on campus, with players from 13 different states, as well as one player from New Zealand. And despite living in a much different environment for most of her life, Scott has adjusted quite well to life at Quinnipiac and her teammates agree.
Being a rugby star isn’t the only thing that Scott is interested in. She was an honor student at Bishop O’Dowd High School, boasting a 3.68 grade point average. A psychology major, Scott hopes to work with athletes in the future.
“I want to be a doctor and work with athletes from a mental standpoint,” Scott said of her future aspirations. “People just see the physical aspect of sports, but they don’t understand how draining sports can be mentally so I want to be a doctor or a psychiatrist and help young athletes come to me with their problems and help them be better athletes both on and off the field.”
The freshman spark plug still has a lot more to give, as does the team as a whole.
The Bobcats close out their regular season on Oct. 28 before they begin the journey of claiming yet another NIRA title.