Women’s rugby takes third at Crimson 7s Tournament to kick off defense of 15s national championship title

The competitive side played its first 7s games since 2019, highlighted by a 50-0 rout of Sacred Heart University.

by Maia Stewart | 4/15/22 2:05am

Source: Courtesy of Doug Austin

Women’s rugby returned to the pitch on Saturday, April 2 to compete in the Crimson 7s Tournament, the Big Green’s first 7s competition since 2019. Both the competitive and development teams participated, with the competitive team placing third overall and the development team coming out with two wins and one loss. This competition kicked off the 7s season for the Big Green, who seek to claim another national title after winning the 15s championship this past November. 

The competitive team defeated Mount St. Mary’s University in the first round of the Crimson 7s tournament, with Anjali Pant ’24, Sophie Ragg ’22 and Sadie Schier ’25 each scoring a try. 

The Big Green went on to crush Sacred Heart University, winning 50-0, before losing to Army West Point in the semifinals — whom they defeated in the 15s national championships this past November. 

With this game being the first 7s competition in over three years, the team worked hard to prepare for the pace, intensity and conditioning required for competition, according to Emily Henrich ’22. Another focus was on experimenting with different skills and plays.

“A lot of what this first tournament was for was to iron out the kinks that come with having not played 7s since 2019,” Henrich said. “I think it was just a good tournament to try things, try new combinations and really just figure out what kind of team we want to be looking towards the rest of the 7s season.” 

Being the defending national champions puts the Big Green under a degree of pressure to succeed — which was certainly exemplified as they faced Army in the semifinals of the Crimson 7s tournament. Pant said that the stakes have felt higher this season.

“Individually, we are a lot harder on ourselves,” Pant said. 

This pressure also acts as a motivator for the team to continue to progress and improve, Nicole Ihensekhien ’24, who served as captain of the development team this past tournament, said. 

“I feel like when we walked in [to the tournament] everyone knew that we were Dartmouth, and we have a target on our backs  — which honestly makes us play better because when other teams bring the intensity, we get so much better,” Ihensekhien said. 

Not only was this tournament newer terrain for the more experienced players on the competitive team, it was also the debut for the new players on the development team: Allie Amerson ’25, Adrienne Coleman ’25, Ella Gates ’24 and Kyla Widodo ’25 scored points in their first 7s appearances, setting the team up for success early on in the season. 

Henrich described the dynamic of the team as new players teaching the veterans and reinvigorating the team, and older players drawing on their experience to become mentors and leaders.

“A special moment for me was getting to play with our new players,” Sarah Korb ’22 said. “For a lot of them, that was their first rugby game ever.” 

Many of the more experienced players shared this sentiment, expressing a sense of pride and excitement in seeing the new players succeed.

“The highlight for me was definitely getting to see our three walk-ons score [and] play make in our game,” Ihensekhien said. 

While women’s rugby, like all other Big Green teams, had their seasons impacted by COVID-19, the team has remained resilient and is hungry for another national title this spring. Next month, they will face new competition outside of the Ivy League conference. 

“I’m definitely excited for national championships which are coming up in mid-May and to really have some high-level competition against teams we’ve never played before,” Ihensekhien said. 

On April 16, the Big Green will scrimmage against Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac University in 15s play. The following weekend, Dartmouth will take part in the Ivy 7s Tournament back at Harvard University.