Alumni Weekend Celebrates Four Decades of Women’s Rugby

Four decades of women’s rugby players came together this August 28-29, 2015 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of women’s rugby in Madison, Wisconsin. More than 100 current players, alumni, family, friends, and fans enjoyed a weekend of rugby fun and camaraderie.

The original club team, Wisconsin Women’s Rugby Football Club, was founded in 1975 and over the past forty years grew into the current senior women’s team and also the University of Wisconsin-Madison Women’s Rugby team.

Alumni Weekend Banner
A banner welcomes Alumni to the Friday night kickoff social

On Friday night, current players and alumni kicked off Alumni Weekend at State Street Brats Tavern in downtown Madison. Alumni were happy to share their stories of rugby revelry to impress and entertain the current players.


11914098_10207612152801079_5139110602806305416_nUW Alumni Heather Schmitt charging through the current UW's defense.

UW Alum Heather Schmitt, who currently plays for Detroit, charging downfield

Saturday morning saw a full side of alumni from both teams – the Wisconsin Women and the UW Women – spanning all four decades dig out shorts and boots to take on the current UW Women’s side at the Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex in Cottage Grove, Wis. A particularly dangerous combination of Diane Milligan and Jill Cohan sharing time at scrumhalf with Meghan White at flyhalf and Heather Schmitt at Inside Center saw the alumni slice through the current UW team’s defense for a number of tries. In the scrum, several alumni forwards kept switching positions until they remembered how to actually scrum.

UW's backline on the attack against the Alumni (white jerseys)
UW’s backline (red jerseys) on the attack against the Alumni (white jerseys)

Meanwhile, the UW players were excited to learn in the middle of the alumni match that they had picked up a ringer with former World Cup hooker Cynthia (Gehrke) Orvis. “She played in the World Cup?! Shut up!”

Women’s Rugby players representing four decades!

On the sidelines, the alumni weekend celebration grew more special with an appearance by one of the team’s founders, Cindy Stabler. Cindy helped establish the club’s storied history of excellent socials in the 1970s, a tradition the current team is proud to carry on still after every match. Special thanks to Nancy “Red” Thorne Cahill and Lisa Riehl for helping us reach more alumni and all of our local alumni (Jill C., Diane, Elina Cillier, Amy Prevost, Cynthia O., etc.) for helping share the word.

The sideline tents provided a place to share photos, and show off trophies, including the team’s newest addition of the 2015 USA Rugby D2 National Championship trophy

Following the alumni match, the current Wisconsin Women’s team earned its first victory of the new fall season with a 48-10 win in a friendly match against the Division 1 Chicago Women.

Alumni capped the weekend in traditional form by continuing the celebration at Wisconsin’s sponsor bar, Wilson’s Bar & Grill, and singing and dancing into the wee hours of the morning thanks to a dance floor and karaoke.

Please save the date for the 2016 Alumni Weekend – our 41st Anniversary – on Friday, August 26 and Saturday, August 27, 2016. Alumni weekend will always be the weekend *before* Labor Day Weekend. See you there!

Here are some more photos from the weekend:

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