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Strong season for women's rugby team

While most of the school’s attention has been turned to the loss of the football program or the early developments of the basketball team, one La Salle team put together an undefeated regular season this fall: women’s rugby. The squad lost in the championship, but showed promise for years to come.

“I still think this season was a success,” junior captain Ali Floyd said. “We had a lot of people graduate last year, about half our team. Fifteen rookies played this year.”

Despite the lack of experience, the team won every game up until the championship, in which they fell to Bryn Mawr-Haverford 19-10 in early November.

Rugby is a club sport at La Salle, and the second-place finish will allow the team to move up to Division II next year. It marks the second consecutive year in which the team has moved up a division under coach Kristin Aliberto.

One undeniable reason for this team’s success is the chemistry between the players. “I look forward to practice every day,” junior Bridget O’Donnell said. “It’s basically like hanging out with all your best friends.”

O’Donnell is a nursing major who, along with a full course load, attends clinical every week to work toward her degree.

That doesn’t sound like your typical studentathlete, does it? Far from it. These women are not compensated with full tuition and free books. They were not recruited to play rugby at La Salle. In fact, none of the players on the rugby team played the game or knew the rules before coming to college.

“You don’t have to know how to play, or even be a good athlete,” Floyd said. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

There is no recruiting budget, no scouting department. Yet somehow, this club sport has put out a high-quality team of players with no experience. How can this be possible? No problem: If you want to play and you have fun, then winning is just gravy.

Recruiting new students to play rugby seems like it would be a difficult process. Would you like to sacrifice a lot of time to participate in an activity that could result in bodily harm and serious injury at any moment? Floyd thinks that freshman will always want to play rugby, and the only recruiting is getting the word out.

“It’s a great competitive outlet,” she said, “It’s [inexpensive] to play and everyone on the team is really accepting and welcoming.”

O’Donnell echoes her captain’s sentiments. “If you’ve played sports your whole life, then you really miss it when you can’t play anymore,” she said. “Rugby is a great way to meet new people and keep being competitive.”

Most players on the team joined for the simple fact that they had a friend who played.

Junior Christina Foley certainly wouldn’t disagree with that. “My friends convinced me to play,” said Foley. “[Bridget] told me that if I didn’t play, she wouldn’t talk to me.” Foley was just another victim of the contagious fervor that rugby players possess..

For many student-athletes, their sport consumes their whole life. They have no time for anything else. For “ruggers,” their life revolves around their sport, and they don’t want time for anything else.

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