Women's rugby sets high hopes for 7s season

by Jake Philhower | 4/16/18 2:10am

The 7s season in women’s rugby is upon us, and the Big Green have high expectations for this upcoming season. Coming off of a tough loss in their first appearance in the NIRA National Championship to Quinnipiac University, the Big Green are looking to make a big statement.

“We want to win a national championship, plain and simple,” co-captain Frankie Sands ’18 said. 

However, to get to their ultimate goal this season, the Big Green need to navigate a tough field of teams and secure a spot in the 7s nationals tournament. This will be no simple task for the team, as they must smoothly navigate the transition from 15s to 7s and continue to play at a very high level.

“It’s a completely different game,” veteran Kat Ramage ’19 said. “You eliminate half of your players but have the same field size to cover. The conditioning to train for it is different as well, so it’s difficult to just go from one to the other.”

On Apr. 8, the team got their first taste of competition this season at the Brown University 7s Tournament. Dartmouth was firing on all cylinders out of the gate, defeating West Chester University 43-0 and the United States Military Academy, the No. 4 team in the nation this fall, 45-7. The Big Green also had strong play throughout elimination games, beating American International College 33-15 in the quarterfinals. The semifinals brought a tough matchup for the team as they faced off against Harvard University, as they did in the Nationals semifinal game from the fall. The Big Green rose to the occasion led by Lilly Durbin ’21, who recorded three tries and three conversions in a 33-0 win over Harvard. The Big Green finished the day with a 29-12 win against Army, which included efforts from all seven members on the field.

Winning their first tournament of the year was huge for this team. They rose to the challenge against top competitors such as Army and Harvard, something that they will have to continue if they hope to be national champions.

“I’m really looking forward to playing at Army 7s and hopefully, [the USA Rugby Collegiate 7s Championship in Colorado] this season,” Durbin said. “[Those games] will be great competition and an awesome opportunity for our team to grow.”

With a solid showing at Brown under their belt, the Big Green looked to repeat its success going into the Ivy 7s Championships on Saturday, hosted by Princeton University. The team played very well in their pool games on Saturday, winning all their games against Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University by at least a three-try margin. In the semifinal matchup, the team had a sweeping 40-0 victory against Brown University, led by Durbin and Casey Smerczynski ’20, who had three and two tries, respectively.

The Big Green had the stage set for yet another rematch with two-time defending League Champion Harvard, this time in the finals of the Ivy 7s Tournament. The Crimson would prove to be no match for the Big Green as Dartmouth delivered a decisive 29-0 victory. Sands was voted co-MVP of the tournament, alongside Princeton’s Jessica Lu, by the head coaches of each team, as she finished the tournament with six tries.

For the Big Green, this season is also about development as the team tries to develop more players who may be newer to rugby.

“We want to see our rookies continue to develop this season,” Sands said. “[The Brown 7s Tournament] was the first time some of our players [on the development team] had ever played in a rugby game. It was incredible! We had six or seven players who had never played a game before, and our [B team] won their bracket.”

With all the excitement surrounding this team, the women must remain focused on their goals as a team. There is no doubt that the team has been dominant thus far and has the potential to be National Champions, but it needs to continue to play sound rugby against the toughest competition.

The team will play in the Bowdoin Polar Bear 7s Tournament next Saturday, an event that could secure them an automatic spot in the 7s Nationals Tournament. With playoff spots on the line, this is a huge weekend for the Big Green, as they continue on their road to a championship.