The women’s rugby team (1-4) earned its first win of the spring season at last weekend’s Ivy League Tournament at Yale. Adverse weather conditions on Saturday forced a realignment of the tournament format, but the Bulldogs still pulled together to defeat Columbia 12-5 on Sunday after losing their first match to Radcliffe on Saturday.
The women’s rugby team was originally scheduled to play two games on Saturday, but the cold, rainy conditions meant that the second game was re-scheduled for Sunday. Team forwards captain Emily Lehrer ’03 said that the weather had a significant impact on the first game against Radcliffe.
“It was a really messy game because of the weather,” Lehrer said. “In rugby the ball slips out of your hands and plays are ruined in weather like that.”
Team president Caitlin Dean ’05 said the mud slowed both teams’ performances. However, after a slow start to the first half, Yale returned to its form in the second.
“[In the first half,] they scored a few points we could have prevented,” Lehrer said. “The second half we really pulled it together — they didn’t score, and we stopped making mistakes.”
However, Yale still ended up losing the game, and proceeded to play its first match on Sunday against Columbia. On Saturday the tournament had been held at New Haven public fields, but because of the improvement in weather conditions on Sunday the matches were moved back to their home at the intramural fields.
Team members were pleased with their performance in the Columbia match. Despite Columbia’s capable offense, Yale had a strong start and continued to perform exceptionally for the duration of the match.
“We went into [the Columbia match] with confidence,” Lehrer said. “We were able to accurately anticipate what they were planning to do, and we ran some beautiful offensive sequences.”
In its final match, Yale was slated to play Brown, a perennial power-house in women’s rugby. Dean said that considering Brown’s reputation, the Bulldogs were very happy with their performance.
“Brown had been seeded second last year in the Ivy League,” Dean said. “We didn’t go in expecting to win, but we still played well.”
While acknowledging that Brown had an overall strong team, team members attributed their loss in particular to the abilities of Brown’s “fly-half,” a position in some ways similar to a football quarterback who calls the plays and helps move the ball up-field.
“Their fly-half was a really excellent player who was able to score on her own and do a lot of other things as well,” Lehrer said.
Despite their loss, team member Catherine Izard ’06 said, the Bulldogs still put up a good fight, considering the circumstances.
“We played particularly well against [Brown],” Izard said. “It was harder because it was their first game and our second.”
Team members were generally pleased with the results of the tournament, although they saw room for improvement. Dean said that improved focus at the beginning of a match might help Yale’s performance.
“We definitely have a period at the beginning of the game where it takes a while to get things moving,” Dean said. “Once things click, we really start playing — if we can really be focused from the start, things will go better.”
Others noted that a little bit more confidence on Yale’s part might be helpful.
“I really think that we’re playing a technically sound game of rugby,” Lehrer said. “We just need a more confident offense, and I saw us starting to do that.”