This past weekend our club participated in the inaugural year of the International Triangle Tour, hosted by the Chicago Blaze in Lemont, IL. Organized by the Blaze, Wisconsin Rugby Club, and Winnipeg Assassins, this tournament intends to be an annual round-robin event between the three clubs, with hosting duties rotating between Chicago, Madison, and Winnipeg, MB, each year.
We played in two games, the first against the Chicago Area Rugby Football Union (CARFU) U23 team and the second against the Winnipeg Assassins women. This tournament provided a great opportunity before our season kicks off to try out different positions, welcome new players, and ensure that everyone got a good chunk of playing time. Both games consisted of two 30-minute halves.
Our first game against CARFU proved to be a good test, as the team is an all-star team comprised of players from around the Chicagoland area. CARFU got ahead of us early with a couple of tries back-to-back, but missed their conversions giving them a 10-0 lead. We managed to hold them there until half time with lots of scrumming and a few try-saving tackles. Out of half, CARFU scored a couple more times but still could not make their conversions; 20-0 CARFU. We managed to fight back, with tries from wing Felicia Carlson and rookie 8-man Maggie “Ginge” Hutchinson. Final score: 34-12 CARFU.
In the second game, we faced off against the Winnipeg Assassins women’s side. A little more rain, a lot more success for Wisconsin! After having a good chunk of time in between games to discuss as a team what worked for us in the first game and what we needed to pay more attention to (led by backs captain Ashley Shaw) we came out stronger and much more cohesive. Canada struck first with an early try, but a great run by wing Bree Valenza led to a try from Felicia on the outside. Game at 7-5 Assassins. Our defense looked much improved from the first game: coming up strong together and ensuring support for those first to the rucks gave us an edge. Eventually prop Tamara Wade came up with the ball and made a great 30-some-odd-yard run into Assassin territory and we were again able to work the ball into the try zone. Canada got one back from us, but luckily our offense came to life and we punched in a few more tries. Game over, 31-14 good guys, bring on the social.
True to the sport, everyone was there for the love of rugby, and a group picture was taken of all the teams under the uprights. We feasted on hot dogs, burgers, desserts, and kept the kegs flowing. A lot of shirt trading and singing of rugby songs later, it is safe to say everyone had a great time in Illinois. We could not have asked for a better way to kick off our fall season, and we are looking forward to a fun weekend catching up with and playing against our alumni! Stay tuned to see how your favorite Wisconsin Women’s D1 team fares…