Women’s Rugby Dominates All Season, Seeks NIRA Championship
The team will look to defend its 2019 NIRA Championship win.
Dartmouth Women’s Rugby has excelled this season, maintaining an undefeated 7-0 record. They secured the Ivy League Championship last weekend and are preparing to compete in the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association Championships — which they won in 2019 — over the next two weeks.
After the pandemic canceled the team’s 2020 15s season and its 2020 and 2021 7s seasons, the team is ready to compete following a three-season hiatus.
“Last year, the ’24s didn’t get to experience a season, so they are having their freshman year with [the ’25s] which is really fun,” said prop Reign Jefferson ’25. “It was hard to stay motivated [to train] during COVID, but being on the team now is the best reward.”
The pre-season started midway through August, with some players finishing their sophomore summer as training commenced. According to center Emily Henrich ’22, the team has a rigorous training schedule in order to maximize its time together: practice four days a week, accompanied by specific skills training on Wednesdays. Additionally, they lift three times per week and play games on Saturdays.
“A lot of what we are trying to do with our training regimen is staying healthy, first and foremost, maintaining both physical and mental wellness, while also being the fittest team out there,” said Henrich.
Henrich credits the coaching staff, including assistant strength and conditioning coach James Baker, for keeping the team in good shape and preventing any serious injuries this season.
“I think we’ve been developing this whole season and growing together as a team … we’ve proved ourselves on the field with our winning streak,” Sadie Schier ’25, who plays the scrumhalf and fullback positions, said.
The Big Green is currently ranked first in the country. After starting the season with a resounding 92-5 victory at Brophy Field over Long Island University, the team has not slowed down. The team has won by 40 or more points in five of its seven games, including a 70-0 shutout victory over Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland.
“Rugby is a very physical and taxing game, so having that driving motivation that you are playing with your best friends truly differentiates our team,” Henrich said.
Henrich explained that rugby traditionally restricts players to their specific skill-sets, limiting their overall capabilities and versatility on the field. However, the pandemic granted players time to sharpen their general skills, improving Dartmouth’s overall performance.
“We are able to play really fast with a lot of flexibility in our positioning,” Henrich said. “It opens up the game a lot, the fact that we are trying new things and that we all have the fundamental skill set to push the boundaries of what we are able to do.”
With an impressive beginning 5-0 non-conference record, the team continued its season with Ivy League play. The Big Green beat Harvard University 45-31 and Brown University 47-5 to finish the season and clinch the Ivy League Championship. Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown are currently the only Ivy League women’s rugby teams that are varsity sponsored by the NCAA.
“My favorite match is always beating Harvard at home,” Henrich said. “It’s a long-standing rivalry, so it felt really good to come out with a win on our home field.”
The rugby team’s talent has not stopped at Dartmouth. Ariana Ramsey ’22, one of the team’s top players, was selected for the 2020 Olympic Team by U.S.A. Rugby.
At the Olympics, Ramsey scored a try in the USA's win over Japan. However, she suffered from an injury during the game against China, and her team finished in sixth place. Ramsey has been out all season due to the injury.
Looking ahead, Dartmouth will compete in the NIRA semifinal match at Brophy Field next weekend. The team will play the number four seed, Brown, at home this Saturday, November 13th. It will be the last home game for the team.
“I think we have room to grow from our last Brown match-up as it was played on a really wet, muddy field that slowed down the pace of our game,” Henrich said. “We are a team that really benefits from playing fast and swinging the ball wide.”
If Dartmouth beats Brown, the Big Green will advance to the NIRA Final in West Point, New York on November 21st.
“The championship game will be tough because we have to take exams on the bus, and managing the balance between school and the end of rugby will be hard,” Jefferson said. “We’re really excited though.”