The Wisconsin Women’s Rugby team is currently seeking a head coach starting in August 2017. We have been back-to-back National Finalists in Division 2 the last 2 years, including winning the National Championship in 2015. In the fall 2016 we returned to Division 1 league play in the Midwest, making us the only Division 1 team in Wisconsin.
• We are looking for someone who is able to help our club continue to grow and develop at the D1 level and help our players advance competitively.
• No previous coaching experience is required, but is valued.
• Level 200 coaching certification is required, the team will pay for your USA Rugby coaching certification course if needed.
• Minimum attendance at 1 practice a week and most games on Saturdays (Ideally, 2 practices per week and all games).
• Coaching roles include planning and leading team practices in season, developing overall team strategy and game plans, working with team leaders to select game-day rosters and providing feedback to players to help them develop their skills.
• Compensation includes payment of match related travel and a stipend.
• Other details of position are negotiable with team leadership.
Our 2017-2018 competitive schedule runs from late August to early November and will include games against teams in Chicago, Twin Cities and Detroit. With the new Midwest schedule, the spring season will consist of national playoffs (if we qualify) and friendly/developmental games. We practice twice a week on Monday and Wednesday at the Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex in Cottage Grove from 5:45 pm-7:45 pm.
We return a hard-working roster with lots of potential looking to prove ourselves at the Division 1 level.
Interested applicants should email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org with contact information, rugby history, and why you’re interested.
Please help our team climb to the next level.
Happy spring! We are so happy to be playing outside again, and to be able to fully stretch our legs after a long winter. Chicago North Shore came to town on April 1 and gave us our first match of the spring season. We ended up losing 60-5, but put up a much better fight than our first game against them in the fall, and we were impressed with how well we played right out of the gate.
The game started with Wisconsin receiving, and a string of sloppy movements led to a turnover that North Shore capitalized on. They ran it into the try zone and made the kick, Wisconsin quickly down 0-7. However, we managed to hold them at that score for quite a while. Possession went back and forth due to forward passes, big tackles, poaches, and line-outs. Our defense looked sharp and present at the rucks, with pretty much everyone stepping up to commit to tackles and support each other. Offensively we tended to make progress, but were eventually stopped by scrappy North Shore plays and our own sloppy passes. Our back line was able to work the ball out quickly, but we just couldn’t penetrate their defensive lines. Eventually, North Shore caught us on an overload and ran it in for their second try. No kick, 0-12.
We reset and continued to keep North Shore away from our try zone. A few won scrums and excellent chip kicks brought us closer and closer to their try line, but the support wasn’t always there, barring any results. Several scrums later North Shore was finally able to get it wide to their speedy backs, and another try was touched down, 0-19. Not being able to contain their speed and periodic low support in rucks led to a couple more scoring opportunities for North Shore before the half. 0-29 North Shore at halftime.
Unfortunately, this game produced many injuries for us. A few minutes were taken early on the second half for injuries, but luckily our players seemed to bounce back. Penalties against North Shore led to frequent opportunities for Wisconsin, but try as we might, we ended up on our heels trying to catch-up with lost possessions. North Shore scored first again out of the half, and the score was briefly 0-34. Finally, we had enough of North Shore causing penalties, and 8-man Grace Hovde was able to quick tap and go into the try zone. Wisconsin on the board, 5-34. Substitutions were made, the game went on, and North Shore gradually tallied up tries and kicks to get us to a final score of 5-60. Good game ladies!
Forward of the Match: Emi Frerichs (Flanker)
Back of the Match: Shannon Walsh (Flyhalf)
Player of the Match: Kali Schulte (Lock)
WWRFC (B-Side) vs. Chicago North Shore (B-Side)
Immediately following the league match, both Wisconsin and North Shore were able to field enough players for a B-side 14 v 14 match. Both teams put up a good fight for the majority of the game, and we got plenty of scrum and line-out practice in. Some of our players were able to try out new positions, and our rookies put on a show giving no signs of hesitation. Well done to all! It was a rugby game like any other rugby game, and nobody managed to score until the final minute of the game when after an originally held up try, North Shore was able to win a scrum and finally touch it down. A fairly uneventful game, final score 0-5 North Shore, but a great learning experience for everyone, and really nobody was complaining about getting more playing time. We ended the day identifying what went well, what to focus our practice time on, and of course with lots of food. Great day of rugby, Wisconsin!
Forward of the Match: Alayna Hronek (Flanker)
Back of the Match: Melanie Eck (Wing)
Player of the Match: Maggie “Ginge” Hutchison (8-Woman)
*Next Up: WWRFC is traveling to Chicago to take on the Chicago Women 4/8.
What a way to end our fall season! Wisconsin Women’s Rugby Football Club pulled off a spectacular win against the Minnesota Valkyries October 29, and added another W to the record. It was a physical battle the whole way, but we pulled it off and finished the season on a 40-26 victory.
Right off the starting kickoff, Wisconsin made it clear we were ready to play. Defensive launching was a major goal going into the game, and we executed it quickly. We received the kick to start the match, and although were stopped in our own zone, we got the ball back thanks to a huge launch that caused a Minnesota turnover. 8-man and forwards captain Grace Hovde came up with the ball and found a gap, eventually brought down by the Minnesota 10. Luckily, lock Brittany Aprahamian was close behind in support and finished the job. Try Wisconsin! 5-0 no kick.
We were met with tough rucking after the resetting kick. Minnesota was eager to keep ball possession, but were called for not releasing in a ruck. After a not straight line out from Wisconsin, the Valkyries elected to scrum and had quick hands out to their wing. It looked like they were going to get a break, but wing Brooke Tashner was able to chase them down and bring their player out of bounds. Line out to Wisconsin, and this time it was textbook. Our backs had fantastic hands out to wing Felicia Carlson, and she brought in her first try of the game. Fly half Elisa Becker connected that time on the conversion, and we extended the lead to 12-0.
Scrumming took over for a bit after that, and Wisconsin came close to back-to-back tries off a won scrum and chip kick from Becker. Play stalled right on the Minnesota try line for a few phases, while our forwards attempted to punch through their defensive line. Somewhere in the chaos, a knock on was called and the Valkyries took over possession and took another scrum. Sloppy hands from Minnesota led to another turnover, and Carlson capitalized. She ran the ball in from around the 22, and tallied another try for Wisconsin! Becker with the made kick (#heatingup) and it became 19-0 good guys.
If you blinked you missed it, but Wisconsin then turned around and pulled off back-to-back tries for real with a big catch off the kick from hooker Emily Mastandrea. After getting the ball wide, inside center Katie Klas took off with support from Carlson on the way. Klas made the successful offload, and Carlson scored her hat trick. Becker yet again made the conversion kick (#onfire) and we happily took the 26-0 lead.
Turnovers and penalty calls caused for a string of scrums to take place, with the Valkyries getting closer and closer into Wisconsin territory. They only got as far as our 22 however, until a knock on happened and Becker kicked the ball all the way back to their zone. We put up a good chase, and brought play out of bounds after Minnesota attempted to run it back up field on the outside. The Valkyries lost possession off the line out, and it was Tashner with the breakaway! Try! Another made kick courtesy of Becker, and score became 33-0.
Minnesota got one try in before the halftime whistle blew, but had to really put the work in to make it happen. Wisconsin had great support after tackles and solid rucking, but a couple penalties had us retreating farther into our own zone. Eventually the Valkyries took advantage of those penalties and managed to touch the ball down in the try zone. 33-7 was the score going into the half.
The Valkyries weren’t done yet heading into the second half however, and racked up a few more tries of their own. More and more scrumming took place, and when their forwards couldn’t drive us back anymore, Minnesota got it wide to their wing. Carlson clearly wasn’t done either though, and picked off their pass and outran everyone to the try zone. That was her fourth try in case you weren’t keeping count, and Becker made one last kick. 40-7 Wisconsin lead.
Minnesota answered right back however, and scored almost instantly off a steal of their own. A made kick from them as well brought the score to 40-14. A couple more turnovers from both sides, and what seemed like a hundred scrums later, the Valkyries finally found some gaps and ran in another. 40-21 with around ten minutes left of play. Minnesota would score once more before time expired, but fullback and backs captain Ashley Shaw left her mark (probably literally) after somehow making three big tackles in a row in a valiant effort to stop them. Good game Minnesota, but Wisconsin took this one 40-26 final score.
A big thank you to the fans that came out to support us, and three cheers for our captains who took it upon themselves to work our butts off all season. We feel extremely lucky to have such dedicated players both on and off the field, and an extended wealth of resources to help us in our first season back in Division One. See you in the spring!
Back of the Match: Sarah “HMB” Pinkston (Outside center)
Forward of the Match: Kali Schulte (Lock)
Player of the Match: Felicia Carlson (Wing)
We had a great time this past weekend traveling to 8 Mile Road in Detroit for a league game against the Detroit RFC Women on October 22. Final score might have been 86-14 in favor of Detroit, but it can definitely be said that we gave it our all. We were unable to roster a full 23 players for the match, and everyone really stepped up to deal with position-shuffling and covering for injured/sick players.
Right off the kick, Wisconsin hustled the ball down into Detroit territory and attempted to battle it out just meters off their try line. However, Detroit took advantage of poaching opportunities and were able to get it wide to their speedy wings. This proved to be our biggest problem and a common theme for the rest of Detroit’s scores throughout the game, and right away they were up 7-0 with a made kick.
The game appeared at first to be another close one, as minutes later we answered right back with a try from wing Felicia Carlson. Although we had been called for a penalty soon after the resetting kick, we got it wide off a line out and Carlson took off running. Elisa Becker added her 2 points, and we were briefly tied at 7.
Both teams went hard after those back-to-back tries and play turned very physical. Huge tackles and fantastic rucking from both sides contributed to a slower pace, and possession went back and forth. Wisconsin had a few penalties that allowed Detroit to inch closer to our try zone, and eventually they capitalized off them. We held them for a few phases right at our try line, but Detroit continuously attacked our defensive line and managed to touch it down. Another made kick, 14-7 Detroit.
Unfortunately for us, Detroit’s defense had continuously great pressure throughout the game, and even though we could get the ball fairly deep into their zone, our support wasn’t always there and a combination of poaching and fast breaks led to Detroit’s next few tries. The first, they had fast hands out and caught us on a break, 21-7. For the second try, we lost the ball in loose play and another fast break on the outside led to a 28-7 lead for Detroit.
We started making them work a bit more for their next try, and our teamwork played a huge part in that. Again, Detroit was right at our line, and again we held them there for multiple phases. Detroit started to get impatient and tried to get it out to their backs, but didn’t create enough space and our wings were able to stop their breaks. The ball went back into the hands of their forwards, and they snuck around us for a corner try. Kick didn’t go, 33-7 Detroit.
Detroit managed to get the score to 52-7 before the half time whistle blew. Wisconsin made smart plays and connected on the majority of our tackles, but Detroit caught us in overloads and were able to steal possession back every time we started making progress. They got a few more tries, and we went into halftime.
Wisconsin looked more organized at the start of the second half; we split the field more evenly, and had better communication going into rucks. We were able to contain them around the 50-meter mark for quite a few phases of play, until they whipped the ball wide and took off into our zone. They couldn’t get out of the corner though, and their kick went wide. 57-7 Detroit.
We got incredibly close to punching in a try after an attempted kick for points from Becker, with our offense taking its turn at attacking Detroit’s defensive line. Flanker Alayna Hronek found the gap and tried to touch the ball down, but Detroit managed to hold it up. They made it clear they weren’t about to let that happen anymore, and responded with a few more tries in quick succession. Score crept up to 76-7 with around fifteen minutes left in the game.
Wisconsin added one more try to our score before time expired, with 8-man and forwards captain Grace Hovde getting the ball to Carlson, who jogged it in from 40 meters out. Becker hammered the kick through the uprights, and that was it for Wisconsin. Detroit worked in a couple more tries in the last few minutes, and the game ended with a final score of 86-14. Thank you Detroit for a great game, a fun social, and also for hosting some our team for the night!
Back of the Match: Ashley “Shaw” Adams (Backs Captain, Scrumhalf)
Forward of the Match: Emily “Mouth” Mastandrea (Hooker)
Player of the Match: Sammy “Sam Bam” Clevenger (Lock)
*Next Up: WWRFC vs. Minnesota Valkyries in Cottage Grove, Wis. 10/29
It all came down to one try October 15 when WWRFC took on the Chicago Women, and unfortunately, it wasn’t in our favor. Despite losing 27-22, we held a great back-and-forth battle all game and put up a tremendous effort.
All the tackling-heavy practices we had in the past few weeks paid off early on in the match, and we were able to stop any gains from Chicago and retain ball possession after our kick-off with intense rucking and beautifully made tackles. Chicago had a chance early on to score, but our scrums were overwhelming and our backs had great support on the outside. Shortly after, we got the ball wide out of a scrum and wing Felicia Carlson took off running for the first score of the game. Good guys up 5-0 with a missed conversion kick.
Scrum-down take two happened soon after the resetting kick, and Chicago came up with the ball and worked it into our zone. We couldn’t get back in time and high tackled on a breakaway, so Chicago was awarded the penalty try. Kick was good, Chicago took the lead back 7-5.
We shook this one off and patiently fought back up the field. Outside center Brooke Tashner had a great poach by the sideline to get the ball back in our hands, and forwards captain and 8-man Grace Hovde booted it out to get us a line-out by Chicago’s 10-meter mark. Wisconsin won the line-out and our forwards had a powerful drive to inch us closer. Quick hands out, but a knock-on forced a turnover to Chicago.
Play went back the other way with Chicago managing to beat us on the outside and work their way into our 22-meter mark. Our forwards had no problem packing down big scrums, and despite Chicago barely getting the ball out wide, a high pass allowed for Tashner to get the steal and make a big run back into Chicago’s zone. TRY! Wisconsin was back on top, 10-7 with a no-good conversion attempt.
Chicago definitely wasn’t giving up yet, however, and answered right back after disciplined play brought them all the way back into our zone. Wisconsin tried to hold the line, but they somehow still managed to work it in and touch it down. Chicago missed their kick, so took the narrow 12-10 lead on us.
Say what you will about Wisconsin, but it can’t be denied we play with heart and leave everything on the field. Intensity peaked in our rucking, and we continued to attack Chicago’s defense, keeping play between their 5- and 10-meter marks. Our forwards created an abundance of space for our backs to work with, and Carlson took full advantage on the outside. TRY Wisconsin! No kick again, but we took back the lead 15-12 just before halftime.
Neither team showed signs of slowing down in the second half. Right away, we asserted ourselves in Chicago territory off big runs from Hovde and flyhalf Elisa Becker. Chicago elected to scrum off a penalty, but our forwards overpowered theirs and we wound up with possession yet again. One more scrum on their 22 mark opened the gate for Hovde to get us within meters, and Tashner to finish it off by touching it down. Wisconsin try, and Becker nailed the conversion kick straight through the uprights. Good guys were back on top for the final time, 22-12.
Chaos ensued in the following minutes, with lots of kicking back and forth from both teams, and possession went back and forth between line-outs and scrums. Play got sloppy from both sides as well, with multiple knock-ons called and eventually it was Chicago that took penalty advantage. They were able to penetrate our line with a couple of breaks, and scored their third try. Missed conversion kick, but the try narrowed our lead to 22-17.
We tried to stay calm and slow things down, but some scrappy play cost us meters after being sent back 10 multiple times off knock-on and offside calls. Chicago’s wings brought them closer into our zone on the outside, and their forwards had great crash-ball play to get them in our try zone. Game was tied at 22.
Wisconsin never gave up in the last 10 minutes of play, and continued to pound Chicago’s defense only meters away from the try-line. We had multiple opportunities, but for whatever reason just couldn’t find the gap to touch it down. After continuous back-and-forth play, we were still able to hold them defensively with huge rucks and tackles. In the end, it wasn’t quite enough, and Chicago scored one more time shortly before time expired. They took the win, 27-22.
Back of the Match: Sarah “HMB” Pinkston (Wing)
Forward of the Match: Emily “Emi” Frerichs (Flanker)
Player of the Match: Grace Hovde (Forwards Captain, 8-man)
*Next Up: WWRFC travels to Detroit for a rematch against the Detroit Women tomorrow, 10/22
First things first, three huge cheers for Lindenwood University Women’s Rugby for making the long bus trip to come to Cottage Grove to play in a friendly against us last Saturday! We’re so thankful that they were able to come and play in less than ideal conditions so we could get an extra fall game in. It was a fun game, and although Wisconsin fell 44-0, we are so proud of our players for trying out new positions and giving it their all.
Rain was falling, wind was blowing, and we kicked to Lindenwood to start the game. Almost right away, Lindenwood kicked for touch and we had our first scrum down. Although Wisconsin won the scrum, loose play resulted in a lot of back and forth and there ended up being multiple scrums in a row. The ball was slick due to the rain, and it caused a lot of turnovers from both teams. Eventually, Lindenwood worked it down into our zone and, thanks to a penalty from Wisconsin, were able to kick for points. The kick made it through the uprights, and Lindenwood took a 3-0 lead.
Wisconsin quickly made our return kick, but with a won scrum from Lindenwood they inched closer to our try line. Another scrum occurred, and Wisconsin took a feeding call. Lindenwood took advantage of the call and quick tapped to bring the ball in for a try and a made kick. Score was 10-0. Almost immediately, Lindenwood regained possession in loose play and used their speed to get in another score. Unfortunately, our tackles just weren’t connecting, and Lindenwood ultimately scored one more time before half. Neither kick was good, so we went into half down 20-0.
A few minutes into the second half, Wisconsin made some substitutions hoping to get fresh legs on the pitch. We improved on applying more pressure off our defensive launch, and it caused scrappy play from Lindenwood. They managed to keep possession however, and scored again about 10 minutes in. Score became 27-0 after a made kick. We were able to make some progress after gaining possession off the kick, but a turnover resulted in a Lindenwood breakaway. They scored once again, 34-0.
Despite better rucking and more aggressive defense in the second half, Lindenwood was able to punch in a couple more tries before the final whistle. One off a 5 meter scrum in our zone, and their last simply from outworking our defense to keep possession. We forced more turnovers and sloppy play, but couldn’t capitalize off them. Although the final score wasn’t what we wanted, we were pleased to see improvement throughout the game, and had a great time socializing with both Lindenwood and our men’s team who also played a couple games that day. Saturdays are rugby days, and we look forward to the next one!
*Next up: WWRFC vs. Chicago Women on Saturday, October 15 in Cottage Grove, Wis.
Back of the Match: Brooke Tashner (Outside Center)
Forward of the Match: Kim Gilmore (Flanker)
Player of the Match: Emily “Emi” Frerichs (Flanker)
Last Saturday we made our way down to Illinois to play against our Chicago North Shore friends. The outcome of the game might not have gone the way we wanted, but even after losing 98-7 we kept our heads up and calmly analyzed what we now need to focus on before our next game.
The action started right away, and North Shore put the pressure on us early. Things looked promising for us briefly off a line-out where we were able to recover the ball and get it wide to wing Felicia Carlson who had a speedy run to about their 22 meter mark. Our forwards showed great discipline playing crash ball into their 10, but ultimately North Shore got the poach and ran it back to our zone.
Co-Captain and outside center Ashley Shaw and the aforementioned Carlson had some great breakaway-stopping tackles to slow play down, but North Shore also had very disciplined forwards and scored off a driving line-out. Score was 5-0, kick no good. Soon after that, North Shore pulled off back-to-back tries off quick hands, spectacular offloads, and great support. The conversion kicks were both good, and North Shore took a 19-0 lead.
We started setting a better pace after that, battling through scrums and managing to stop any more large advances thanks to better pressure. After a few knock-ons and forward passes, North Shore came up strong but fullback Sybil Levine was on fire the whole game and put a stop to them with huge tackles in the backfield. One of those tackles forced North Shore out of bounds, and with a missed line-out by Wisconsin, North Shore brought it in once again to the try zone. Kick went through the uprights, 26-0.
Right off the resetting kick, North Shore booted it back our way and raced us back into our try zone for another score. No kick this time, 31-0. After a long series of line-outs, we got the ball back into the hands of Carlson and started making progress back into North Shore territory; however, a penalty call was made and North Shore took full advantage of it. Breakaway try, made kick, North Shore with the 38-0 lead.
Play once again slowed down after that, and possession went back and forth for a while off line-outs, scrums, and penalty calls. We kept up the aggression and didn’t make it easy for them to get the ball into our zone, but eventually they did and scored once more before half. North Shore made their kick, and took the 45-0 lead on us into half.
The second half started with a few scrums, forced kicks, and unfortunately lots of scoring from our opponents. We continued to stop breakaways and made big hits on their crashing attempts, but North Shore’s quick hands proved to be deadly and led to multiple tries in pretty quick succession. North Shore went 2 for 3 on conversions, and the score was brought to 69-0 at about 15 minutes into the second half.
Flyhalf Elisa Becker had great resetting kicks throughout the game, and 8-man Grace Hovde was able to capitalize off them; Hovde had a long run and brought us closer to their try zone, but we couldn’t keep possession and North Shore had a lengthy kick right back. We were stopped from running it out and North Shore reclaimed possession for another try. Score was briefly 74-0 until a flurry of turnovers allowed for them to get back-to-back tries for a third time. This time they got it wide and ran it into the corner, and a missed difficult kick brought their lead to 81. Chaos in rucks and penalty calls led to a couple of injuries, and after a minute was taken to deal with those, North Shore got the quick tap and scored. 86-0.
It was tough to get our offense going through North Shore’s continued pressure, and it was equally difficult for our defense to penetrate their offensive lines for the entirety of the match. North Shore is the D1 National Championship Runner Up for a reason, and it was impressive (and at times frustrating) to be shown how they achieved that accomplishment. North Shore got a few more tries on us late in the game, and after a missed kick and then made kick, they got to their winning score of 98.
We did a remarkable job of keeping level heads and refusing to get choppy when down by so much, and also played with a lot of heart that never allowed us to completely give up. Becker did a fantastic job to set up opportunities with her kicks and turnover-causing tackles, and finally Wisconsin got on the board thanks to another #CaptainConnection from Shaw and Hovde; 98-5, Becker made the kick, (In Becker We Trust) and the game came to an end. Final score, 98-7. Good game North Shore!
Back of the Match: Felicia Carlson (Wing)
Forward of the Match: Alayna Hronek (Flanker)
Player of the Match: Sybil Levine (Fullback)
*Next up: Friendly match vs. Lindenwood on October 1st
Due to a number of injuries, following the league game we played a modified B-side game that still allowed for everyone who wanted more experience to get playing time in. We decided on playing 10s with 3 10 minute periods, and although Wisconsin lost that one too, we put forth a good effort and continued to improve as time went on.
The first period of play provided lots of rucking practice, and backs captain Shaw continued to rack up tackles that stopped any breakaways. Despite this tough rucking and aggressive tackling, North Shore got the early lead on us and made their kick. 7-0.
North Shore showed a lot of depth throughout their roster, and came right back at us with equal aggression and more quick hands that got them into the try zone for another quick try. 2 for 2 on conversions, North Shore extended their lead to 14.
Our backs had pretty solid cohesiveness and created many opportunities to work the ball up; good offloads from the likes of Sarah “HMB” Pinkston and Shaw kept the ball in our possession, and support from the forwards held North Shore at 14-0 going into the first intermission.
A few substitutions were made, and the second period began. North Shore got the quick score, but missed the conversion, 19-0. Our players started to get hungry, and rookie Ashley Dorn took off on a breakaway; however, the ball was knocked on and play was brought back to about the 50. North Shore regained possession, and this time got a breakaway through for the try. Conversion good, 26-0. End of second period.
Wisconsin continued to play hard throughout the third period, but couldn’t keep possession for long. A slew of penalty calls allowed the forwards to play crash ball into North Shore territory, but quick support allowed North Shore to be able to poach the ball and take over play. North Shore went on to score a few more times before the final whistle blew, and they won the B-side showdown 41-0.
Back of the Match: Brooke Tashner
Forward of the Match: Emi Frerichs
Player of the Match: Sarah “HMB” Pinkston
Put a check-mark in the Win column for Wisconsin Women’s Rugby! With a physical and hard-fought game this past Saturday, we were able to pull off our first win as a Division 1 team after defeating the Minnesota Valkyries 40-17.
It wasn’t until a little over halfway into the first half that a try was allowed from either team, and although the Valkyries were the first to score, it didn’t come easy. Wisconsin managed to fend them off from getting too close to our zone by powering through numerous scrums and pulling off big hits that stopped breakaways in their tracks.
Minnesota had great pressure on us as well, pushing forward and keeping a steady wall that was tough to penetrate to get into their zone. A few penalties allowed some wiggle room for 8-man and forwards captain Grace Hovde to get clear kicks off and continue our momentum forward. Minnesota patiently moved the ball further into our zone after winning a line-out, and the first try was scored. Kick no good, Valkyries up 5-0.
Wisconsin was quick to answer, though, as Grace powered her way back up the field to set up outside center and backs captain Ashley Shaw, who was then able to outwork a couple of Valkyries to get a try of her own. #CaptainConnection. Flyhalf Elisa Becker made the kick, good guys now up 7-5.
Becker then also quickly took back possession after the resetting kick, and after some handiwork from Shaw and wing Bree Valenza, hooker Emily “Mouth” Mastandrea was able to punch in a try. Becker again with the made conversion, extending our lead to 14-5.
Minnesota wasn’t giving up yet, however; they kept up the pressure and found some gaps in our defense to get back onto the board. Conversion kick for them no good, we held them to 14-10 at the half.
Coming out of the half, keeping a level head, cleaning up our passes, and staying in support of each other were our big goals, and we soon followed through on all of them. We took some big (late) hits that left Minnesota to play with 14 on their side, but they still were able to utilize space efficiently to get in their last try and conversion kick of the game. Valkyries now with the 17-14 lead.
Minnesota continued to maintain possession of the ball until fullback Sybil Levine got her hands on it and made a terrific run back into Valkyrie territory for the try. Missed conversion kick, and Wisconsin took a narrow lead, 19-17.
Minnesota once again came up with pressure and knocked us briefly back on our heels, until a knock-on gave us possession back and we ran it back all the way to their 10 meter line. A scrum allowed for rookie flanker Laura Adams to run it in for the try and Becker’s conversion, 26-17.
Restarting play after that try, Adams received the kick-off and made an excellent off-load to Hovde who ran it all the way in for her own score. If you blinked you missed it, but back-to-back tries and made conversions extended our lead 33-14.
Minnesota again went down to 14 players after a high tackle call was made, resulting in a red card, and flanker Lauren McCormack then had a great steal off a line-out to get possession back. The ball made its way out to rookie prop Tamara Wade and she drove it in for our final try. Becker again pulled through, Wisconsin 40, Minnesota 17.
In the final minutes of play, the Valkyries brought it back to inside our 5 meters, but we had players on the try line ready and waiting to hold it up. A stolen scrum from Wisconsin got the ball out, and we booted it out of bounds to end the game. The whistle blew, and we have our first win in Division 1!
Next up: WWRFC vs. Chicago North Shore in Illinois this coming Saturday!
Player of the Match: Ashley Shaw (Backs Captain, Outside Center)
Minnesota’s Pick for Player of the Match: Sybil Levine (Fullback)
WWRFC vs Detroit RFC Women
Our first D1 game of the season took place this past Saturday, and although we walked away having lost 24-10, it was a hard fought battle and a good test to see where we stand in our new division. The last time WWRFC faced off Detroit we lost 66-0, so three cheers for achieving a closer score!
The game started off with a lot of physicality right away, possession was going back and forth off rucks and penalties from both sides for not releasing and playing on the ground. Just when it seemed like Detroit was going to get an early lead going, backs captain and scrumhalf Ashley Shaw had a huge break away stopping tackle to force more loose play. The forwards took over briefly after that, with fly half Elisa Becker and prop Sarah Thomas preventing Detroit from gaining any meters. Detroit worked their way into our try zone after some knock-ons were called, but we managed to hold it up. Even though our pack overpowered the scrums on their put ins, their scrumhalf was able to get the ball out quickly, and they eventually got the first try of the game. 5-0 Detroit, missed conversion.
Right off the resetting kick, Detroit almost brought it all the way in, but luckily, Shaw and fullback Sybil Levine made their tackles, preventing back-to-back tries. We made progress into their territory, but continuously beat ourselves with knock-ons and failing to roll away out of the rucks. Detroit kicked it away, and flanker Lauren McCormack won us the lineout; we were able to work it all the way to the outside where wing Sarah Pinkston had a great run to roughly their 10. Our forwards had excellent patience playing crash ball to allow more meters to be gained, but unfortunately we were poached on the outside and Detroit took off running all the way back to score. 10-0 Detroit, conversion kick was no good.
Again, we patiently worked our way back down the field and again calls for not rolling away and not releasing caused turnovers, eventually leading to another break away for Detroit. A high tackle was made, and we were sent to the bin while Detroit was awarded a penalty try. The conversion kick made it through the uprights this time, so 17-0 Detroit. Turnovers were our biggest problem in the first half; we had great support and movement with the ball when we had possession, but too many mistakes happened that allowed them to gain possession back. Detroit scored once more before half and made their kick, stretching their lead to 24-0.
The second half showed a lot of improvement from our team; we were able to stop breakaways before they started, and fresh legs were a huge advantage for us. Rookie Brooke Tashner and prop Tamara Wade provided powerful runs that got us close enough to their uprights for Becker to pull off a clean kick; 24-3 out of the half. Possession went back and forth for the rest of the game off repeated scrums and lineouts, but we were able to force turnovers and stop breakaways a lot more efficiently. Our team worked as a unit to get the ball closer to their zone, and eventually it paid off as Grace made a big run off a scrum into their zone and Becker once again made the kick. 24-10 was the final score, Detroit with the win.
Back of the game: Katie Klas (Inside center)
Forward of the game: Sammy ‘Sam Bam’ Clevenger (Lock)
Player of the Match: Elisa Becker (Flyhalf)
Next up: An away game against the Minnesota Valkyries! Feel free to follow along by following us on twitter @WIWomensRugby.
WWRFC (B-side) vs. Oconomowoc
Following the league game, our B-Side team played a friendly against Oconomowoc. Big thanks to their team for traveling to play us, and shout out to some of the Detroit players who also joined WWRFC for the game! This match consisted of 30 minute halves, and was a great opportunity for everyone to get ample playing time.
Wisconsin got away with an early lead, with wing Brooke Tashner getting the breakaway try. 7-0 including the made conversion from inside center Bree Valenza. Oconomowoc got on the board a few minutes later with a try of their own, but the kick was no good, 7-5. Not to fear, Wisconsin worked the ball back up the field, and once again got it to Brooke on the outside. Another conversion cleanly through the uprights, 14-5. Wisconsin put a stop to any advances Oconomowoc made, and Brooke and fullback Sybil Levine extended our lead to 24-5 into the half.
Second half started, and WWRFC showed no sign of slowing down. Our forwards took over, with a score early on, and another added by captain and 8-man Grace Hovde. 34-5 good guys. After continuously keeping possession off the scrums, we were able to get the ball to the back line quickly, allowing backs’ captain and scrummy Ashley Shaw to get a try and conversion for herself. 41-5 Wisconsin. Oconomowoc got a few more points on the board with a try and made conversion late in the half, bringing the score 41-12. Brooke decided she wasn’t quite tired yet however, and scored yet again. Bree with the conversion, 48-12. With time running down, Wisconsin managed to hold Oconomowoc, and Sybil scored one more just for good measure. Good game Oconomowoc, but WWRFC wins it, 53-12!
Back of the game: Brooke Tashner (Wing)
Forward of the game: Tiffany ‘Tiff’ Wade (Prop)
Player of the Match: Andrea ‘Pogo’ Clark (Hooker)
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…