Radcliffe’s loss is Yale’s gain.

This spring, Yale will gain a new women’s rugby coach who has competed nationally and has been repeatedly recognized for her athletic accomplishments.

Mary Dixey, the assistant coach for the national women’s under-23 team at the USA Rugby Football Union, played 14 years of rugby as a flyhalf — a key offensive position — for the Beantown Rugby Club. During her career, Beantown won the Club National Championship twice, and Dixey was twice named the National Club Back MVP.

A back coach for the Radcliffe women’s rugby club since 1993, Dixey will supplement Yale coach John Broker’s work with the club. Previously, Broker had worked with both backs and forwards on the squad.

Coming to Yale was not a difficult decision, Dixey said, because she was relocating to Orange anyway and wanted to continue her involvement in collegiate women’s rugby.

“I’m looking forward to being associated with Yale rugby,” Dixey said.

Women’s rugby president Caitlin Dean ’05 said the club struggles to fill its roster. But having another coach should help the Bulldogs’ recruiting efforts.

“Our main problem right now is numbers,” Dean said. “We suffered mostly from lack of breadth on the field.”

In the fall, the Yale club was shut out four times, including a 49-0 loss to Radcliffe, Dixey’s old squad.

Dixey said there was no way for her to know how much different the spring season would be, but said the result might depend on various individual efforts.

“The success is going to be dependent partially upon the recruits,” Dixey said. “I hope the recruiting process is fruitful and that there will be growth within the team.”

Next week, when the club begins indoor training, Dixey said she will meet everyone. Because rugby is an endurance sport, conditioning must begin with endurance training.

“You have to start by building an aerobic pace,” Dixey said. “Then you can work on some of your shorter sprints and some strength training, because rugby is a very physical sport as well.”

Broker hopes that his players will not be the only ones who receive helpful instruction from Dixey.

“[Dixey is] pretty much a legend in women’s rugby,” Broker said. “I’m hoping I can learn an awful lot from her.”

After facing Ivy League foes in the fall, the Bulldogs’ schedule this spring will feature a majority of matchups against nonconference opponents.