Wisconsin Advances Back to USA Rugby National Final June 4

The Wisconsin Women’s Rugby team won both its matches at the USA Rugby National Playoffs in Pittsburgh, Pa., this past weekend, May 21-22.

With the two wins, Wisconsin now advances to the USA Rugby Senior Club Division 2 Women’s National Championship on Saturday, June 4 in Glendale, Colorado.

As the East Champions, Wisconsin will play the West Champions, the Life West Gladiatrix from California. News recap here from The Breakdown.

Wisconsin defeated the Charlotte (NC) Women, 67-19, on Saturday, May 21 in the national Round of 8. News recap here from the Breakdown.

In the national Final 4, Wisconsin defeated the Harrisburg (PA) Harlots, 31-17, on Sunday, May 22, in very poor, muddy field conditions to advance to their second-straight USA Rugby National Championship. Wisconsin is the reigning 2015 Division 2 National Champions.

The team needs your help to travel to Colorado to defend the national title. Please consider a donation to help us reach our $10,000 goal.

Happy Winners! East Champions!

Happy Winners! East Champions!

Wisconsin Travels to USA Rugby National Playoffs, Round of 8 vs. Charlotte Women

[WWRFC team photo by Patrick Barron]

After winning the team’s second-straight Midwest Division 2 women’s championship May 8, the Wisconsin Women are now traveling to Pittsburgh, Pa., for the 2016 USA Rugby National Playoffs Friday, May 20 – Sunday, May 22.

This is USA Rugby’s “Elite 8” and “Final 4” weekend. Wisconsin will need to win both of its matches in Pittsburgh to return to Glendale, Colorado on Sunday, June 5 to defend its 2015 USA Rugby National Championship.

Wisconsin will face the South Champion Charlotte (North Carolina) Women on Saturday, May 21 at 10:45 a.m. central/11:45 a.m. eastern.

A full schedule of all matches in Pittsburgh is below.

The match will be livestreamed on usarugbytv.com. Wisconsin will also be providing a live twitter feed from the sidelines via the team’s account – www.twitter.com/WIWomensRugby. Additionally, fans can follow the team’s new Snapchat account all weekend – Snapchat user name WIWomensRugby.

The Pittsburgh regional will also host the Division 2 Round of 8 match between the Burlington (Vermont) Women and the Harrisburg Harlots (Pennsylvania) at the same time on Saturday. The winners of the two Saturday matches will play Sunday at 10:45 CT/11:45 ET. The losers will play a consolation match at 7:15 a.m. CT/8:15 a.m. ET. All of Sunday’s matches will also be livestreamed.

Wisconsin is raising $10,000 to fund its trip to the national playoffs in Pittsburgh and possible trip to Glendale, Colorado should the team continue to win and advance. Please consider making a donation to help the team offset travel costs here.

usarugby_pittsburgh schedule

Wisconsin Women Win 2016 Midwest Championship, Qualify for USA Rugby Nationals

The Wisconsin Women’s Rugby team won the 2016 Midwest Women’s Division 2 Championship this past weekend. This is the second-straight Midwest title for Wisconsin and fifth-straight Midwest final four appearance.

Wisconsin defeated the Buffalo Women 100-5 Saturday in the Midwest semifinal and fought-back from a halftime 19-21 deficit to defeat rivals the Milwaukee Scylla 47-33 to claim the trophy. The regional final was considered a national round of 16 (“Sweet 16”) match and was quite the battle to watch for fans in attendance.

The club has qualified for the USA Rugby national playoffs (“Elite 8”) in Pittsburgh, Pa., May 21-22. As the Midwest’s top seed, Wisconsin will play the South’s champion, the Charlotte (NC) Women that Saturday. The winner will play the winner of the other national playoff match between the Burlington (VT) Women (Northeast Champion) and the Harrisburg Harlots (PA, Mid-Atlantic Champion) on Sunday, May 22. Sunday’s winner will advance to the USA Rugby national final two weeks later in Glendale, Co.

Wisconsin is the reigning 2015 USA Rugby National Champions.

Stay tuned for more detailed updates soon!

Wisconsin Playoff April 30, Friends & Family Day with Pledges For Points Fundraiser

wwrfc_cover_spring2016_playoffsAlthough the opponent and kickoff time is still to be determined, the Wisconsin Women have earned home-field advantage for the first round of the Midwest Division 2 Women’s playoffs on Saturday, April 30 at the Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex.

Wisconsin welcomes all of our Alumni, Friends, and Family to join us that Saturday to cheer us on to another big playoff win and send us to our fifth-straight Midwest Final Four the following weekend.

You can also RSVP for more updates to our Facebook event for Alumni, Friends & Family Day here.

The team encourages all of our fans to wear their best Wisconsin red and also help us raise travel funds through our Pledges For Points.

WWRFC Pledges For Points Fundraiser – April 30

Help the defending Division 2 National Champion Wisconsin Women’s Rugby Football Club raise money for playoffs by joining this pledge drive! To join this fundraiser fill out this survey or email your pledge details to ww_rfc@yahoo.com.

On April 30, we will play a Midwest quarterfinal match at the Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex in Cottage Grove, Wis., to qualify for the Midwest Final Four in Chicago, Ill. You can help us raise money for Midwests and beyond by pledging a dollar amount for each point we score in our April 30 match. Example: you pledge $1 for each point, we score 25 points in our Midwest quarterfinal match = $25 donation.

Sign up here for Pledges For Points!

After the match, we will send you an email with your total donation amount and you will be able to submit your pledge fulfillment via cash, check, or PayPal. We appreciate any amount you can pledge and you don’t have to be present at the game to participate! This fundraiser will help us as we embark on playoffs in May! As with all of our fundraising events, 5% of all funds raised will go into our team endowment fund.  In the event we don’t advance in playoffs, we will earmark funds for future travel expenses.

The Breakdown: D2 Playoffs Taking Shape

Women’s rugby news website The Breakdown highlighted key matches heading into weekend across the country in an feature article posted April 14.

The article included Wisconsin’s last regular season match at the Milwaukee Scylla.

Via the article:

If the DII club leagues haven’t already named their post-season representatives, then the next two weekends will do the trick. Here’s an update on where the regional competitions stand and the games to follow this weekend: …

MIDWEST
The top two teams from each of the four pools play a divisional crossover (East 1 teams vs. East 2 teams, West 1 teams v West 2 teams) in what is essentially the Midwest quarterfinal round. The four victors move onto the Midwest final four weekend.

East 1: Buffalo (5-0) has clinched the top seed and will play its first and last spring league game against Akron (0-5) Saturday. Cleveland and Pittsburgh Highlanders are separated by one point in the standings, so Saturday’s winner will finish second and keep playing.

East 2: Cincinnati (5-1) and Louisville (5-1) are heading to playoffs but haven’t sorted out their seeds yet. The duo play each other Saturday to determine who’s in better shape after the long break.

West 1: County Will Morrigans (7-0-1) will advance as this pool’s top seed, but the second seed is up for grabs. League play resumes this weekend.

West 2: The headliner pits undefeated Wisconsin against 4-2 Milwaukee Scylla this weekend. Scylla should advance as the #2 seed out of the pool to divisional playoffs, so this game will serve as a good gauge for the post-season-bound teams.

Read the full preview article here.

Photo credit: Patrick Barron

Wisconsin Plays Up, Beats D1 Minnesota Valkyries 62-37

The Midwest Division 2 women’s spring playoffs are looming and the Wisconsin Women opted to gauge themselves against a higher-division opponent April 9 to test their mettle.

Wisconsin traveled to the Division 1 Minnesota Valkyries, an opponent who holds several wins against the team throughout competitive history. In a sign of the ever-changing nature of rugby parity though, it was Wisconsin who knocked out a dominating 62-37 victory on the road against the Valks.

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Wisconsin scrum versus Minnesota Valkyries. And Wisconsin’s awesome new gray jerseys!

The win marked Wisconsin’s first against the Valks in at least 13 years, if not more, according to one WWRFC alum. Both teams previously competed regularly against each other in Division 1 before league realignments saw the Valks move up to the Women’s Premier League and later back down to D1, as Wisconsin moved down to D2 and a more natural fit for the smaller city of Madison.

The friendly match saw both teams mix up their rosters with starters and developmental players. But Wisconsin’s outside speed and forward continuity proved too much for the rebuilding Valkyries.

Speedy Wisconsin wing Felicia Carlson notched points on the scoreboard first with a try. The ensuing restart saw outside center Bree Valenza slip past the Minnesota defense to set up wing Justine Wypych for Wisconsin’s next try in the early minutes of the match. Conversions were unsuccessful and Wisconsin held an early 10-0 lead.

The Valks rallied back with a try of their own by former UW-Whitewater and Wisconsin Women’s alum Kristen “Ham” Zdanczewicz, a longtime USA Eagle, leading the valks at inside center. The visiting team continued to build the lead however. Wisconsin’s Grace Hovde cleared a successful penalty kick to make it 13-5 before Valenza scored her second try, followed by a Hovde run setting up Carlson for her second try to make it 27-5.

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Wisconsin scrumhalf Kris Peterson tacklers Valkyrie inside center Kristen “Ham” Zdanczewicz, a former Wisconsin and USA Eagle alum.

The Valks didn’t fold as their #8 capitalized on a penalty play from 10 meters our to make it a 27-10 scoreline. Wisconsin’s outside speed couldn’t be matched though as fans saw Wypych earn her second try and improve the scoreboard to 34-10 for Wisconsin.

Scoring notes got a bit fuzzy as the cold set in for sideline statisticians, but further back and forth scoring saw Wisconsin maintain the lead at 42-20 around the 50-minute mark.

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Wisconsin wins the ruck on offense. Minnesota not challenging much.

Wisconsin vet Kris Peterson, playing at scrumhalf, earned points for the team after shiftily breaking though the defense. A few cheap shots from the home team saw them earn a yellow card after a later hit on Wypych after she scored another try. Wisconsin tighthead Melissa “Helga” Pohleber punished the opposition with a big break to set up fullback Ashley Shaw to make it 57-20. Scoring continued as Peterson set up Carlson with an easy try to make it 67-20.

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No. 9 Kris Peterson on the attack with plenty of Wisconsin teammate support.

The Valkyries were not done though as Wisconsin penalties and some subbing gave the Valks three late tries heading into the closing minutes. Wisconsin’s lead was too much though. Final score 62-37.

Wisconsin returns home for a hard week of practice in preparation for the final Midwest Division 2 league match of the season. The team travels to Milwaukee to play longtime state rivals, the Milwaukee Scylla on Saturday, April 16 at the Gun Club field on the Lake Michigan shoreline. A win against the Scylla will give Wisconsin an undefeated 8-0 league record and improve them to 14-1 overall in matches and tournament play.

Wisconsin vs MN Valks

Minnesota Valkyries conceding the rucks against Wisconsin’s support.

Wisconsin vs MN Valks

Wisconsin flanker Kim Gilmore breaks down the field through the Valkyries. Speedy teammate Sybil Levine in support.

Wisconsin vs MN Valks

Wisconsin’s Kris Peterson with a breakaway run with Felicia Carlson in support. Carlson scored the ensuing try.

Wisconsin vs MN Valks

Wisconsin fullback Ashley Shaw battles through two Valkyrie defenders.

Wisconsin vs MN Valks

Wisconsin team photo after the win against the Minnesota Valkyries. New team jerseys looking sharp!

Snow Day Fun with UW-Madison Women

What do you do when Mother Nature can’t make up her mind about spring weather? Play rugby anyway.

With a Saturday that at times was a snowy blizzard, at other times a beautiful, sunny spring day, the Wisconsin Women welcomed little sister team, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Women, to the Wisconsin Rugby Sports Complex on April 2.

Conditions made a true competitive match difficult – hard to play officially when you can’t see the pitch lines – but the two teams opted to play some fun, snow rugby. No score was kept. A rugby snowwoman was built.

Check out this crazy time lapse video of the Wisconsin Rugby Club men’s games held on the same afternoon.

A fun joint social was held afterwards at Wilson’s and was further enhanced by the surprise appearance of three men’s teams, including our Wisconsin Men, whose social plan had fallen through. A good time was had by all, despite Wisconsin’s wacky spring weather.

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Flanker Andrea Clark leads a crash for Wisconsin (gray) vs. UW Women (red)

UW-Madison's Laura Adams picks and goes against Wisconsin.

UW-Madison’s Laura Adams picks and goes off a ruck against Wisconsin.

Wisconsin flanker/lock Sammy Clevenger goes up for the ball in a snowy lineout against UW-Madison.

Wisconsin flanker/lock Sammy Clevenger goes up for the ball in a snowy lineout against UW-Madison. Check out the new gray uniforms too!

Our new team mascot

Our new team mascot

USA Rugby Feature: Women of Wisconsin Eye Big Spring After Undefeated Fall

The Wisconsin Women were featured by USA Rugby on the national governing body’s website and social media channels March 24.

USA Rugby Feature Article - Wisconsin WomenHere’s the article via USA Rugby:

Alex Solomon
March 24, 2016
Photo by JD Black

“If we do well in the Midwest, I’m sure the excitement and hunger will grow, but no one is looking ahead.”

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Wisconsin Women’s Rugby Football Club’s 2015 Division II National Championship took some by surprise. However, Wisconsin’s form and undefeated 2015-16 record is proof the squad from Madison is far from a one-year wonder.

A 2015 fall campaign produced a 7-0 mark and a plus-267 point differential for Wisconsin against its Midwest rivals. Still, the reigning National Champion’s road to the 2016 Midwest Playoffs has not been as seamless as its unblemished record would indicate.

“The fall season has been a sorting out process for us as much as anything,” Head Coach Bob Jafferis said. “We lost four starters from last year’s Championship game, and several other players that have started a lot of games for us have also retired or moved on. In addition, we had several players change positions for this year.”

It is going to take more than a few retirements and some tinkering of combinations to slow down a club with a 41-year history. While less-experienced players have done well to fill roles in the first XV, several Wisconsin stalwarts have somehow continued to up their game and the club’s stakes.

Up front, tight head prop Melissa Polheber leads one of the best front rows Jafferis has ever coached. In the back row, open side flanker Kris Peterson is heavily relied on for her energy and go-forward ball, and No. 8 Grace Hovde is always dangerous with ball in hand.

Not to be forgotten is 2015 National Championship MVP Justine Wypych. The quick-footed winger continues to be a thorn in the foot of opposing defensives, dotting down nine times over six conference games this past fall.

The experience of outmatching an established Sacramento Amazons team, 38-28, in last year’s Final, and carrying a 7-0 mark into the spring has not encouraged Wisconsin to make any plans beyond its April 30 opening-round Midwest Playoff fixture.

“I don’t think anyone is looking beyond the Midwest,” said Jafferis. “They know how tough it was last year to win and advance. So, they know to expect a big challenge. If we do well in the Midwest, I’m sure the excitement and hunger will grow, but no one is looking ahead.”

One final conference game remains on Wisconsin’s schedule, an April 16 visit to Milwaukee to face Scylla, but the top seed out of the Midwest DII West 2 league is all but claimed by the women who train out of Cottage Grove, Wisc. That top seed spells a Midwest Semifinal against either the Chicago Sirens or Fort Wayne. Historically, Wisconsin holds a favorable record over the Sirens, whereas the reigning champ has never faced Fort Wayne.

A victory in the Midwest Semifinal could potentially set up a regional final versus Chicago’s County Will Morrigans. The Morrigans are having an equally impressive season, as the team’s lone loss came to the Minnesota Valkyries’ Division I side.

“We think we are positioned to do well, but we have a lot of respect for the other teams in the Midwest,” Jafferis commended.

If it sounds like Wisconsin is humble it is because it is. But the club is also less concerned about results, and chooses to concern itself with the main reason its members still lace up the boots.

“Our first goal is always to have fun,” added Jafferis. “Rugby is a game, and we want to have fun playing.”

Plenty of rugby stands between Wisconsin and a return visit to Colorado’s Infinity Park for the 2016 Club National Championships, but one thing is for certain: the women of Wisconsin will not be sneaking up on anyone this spring.

Article from USA Rugby. Photo by JD Black.

Wisconsin Ranked #2 in the Country

New women’s rugby news website The Breakdown issued its first set of spring national rankings for senior Division 2 women March 23. Wisconsin earned a #2 ranking nationally across the competition.

Via the Breakdown:

So much has changed since last year – teams moved to and from DI, clubs bulked up schedules for a nationals run, and others fell completely off of the radar. This first ranking of the year relies on current results and blends them with the relative strength of regions as demonstrated at last year’s nationals, while also accounting for teams that have left the division. It also serves as a general update on what’s happening around the country.

First, here’s a look at the teams that look particularly strong this year:

Life West is a new team and should be playing in DI, if there was such a competition in the region. The Gladiatrix dominate NorCal and are propelled by Eagles like Jenn Sever and Catie Benson, and age-grade fixtures like Megan Pinson and Megan Foster – among many other talented players. The only drawback – other than meaningful competition – is the post-season barrier they provide to other good DII teams.

Defending DII champion Wisconsin is looking good again at 7-0 and would surprise no one if it returned to the national title match. Like all of the Midwest (and Northeast and Mid-Atlantic), the majority of the regular season was contested in the fall, and the final league games will occur in April. Needless to say, Wisconsin is the Midwest favorite.

See the full rankings article here.

DII CLUB RANKINGS – MARCH 23, 2016
Rank. Team (Record). Recent results
1. Life West (7-0). Lopsided victories in NorCal; won Champagne Classic
2. Wisconsin (7-0). Won Whiskey 10s; last league game April 16
3. Emerald City (6-0). Big lead in Pacific Northwest; beat Tacoma 58-0
4. Burlington (5-1). Atlantic North champion; idle until April 16
5. Augusta (4-0). Defeated Charleston 64-5; lost 25-0 friendly to DI Raleigh
6. Charlotte (5-0). Defeated Eno River 72-0; defeated league opponents 306-19
7. SFGG (4-2). Defeated San Jose 96-15; lost 62-6 to Life West
8. Providence (4-2). Idle until April 2
9. Tucson (5-0). Defeated reigning league champ Fullerton 26-5
10. Cincinnati (5-1). Idle until April 16; April 23 game to watch vs. Scioto Valley
11. KC Jazz (3-0). Friendlies at Nash Bash
12. Milwaukee Scylla (4-2). Gave Wisconsin a good game, beat DI Minn. Valkyries
13. Fullerton (4-1). Lost 26-5 to Tucson
14. Brandywine (6-0). Defeated Morris 41-28 in friendly
15. Buffalo (5-0). Last league game April 16

Wisconsin Opens Spring With Whiskey 10s Trophy

2016 Chanp

2016 Whiskey 10s Championship Plaque

After a long winter offseason, Wisconsin used a warm weekend to travel down to Chicago and win the 2016 Whiskey 10s Tournament.

Shaking off the winter rust, the team earned four large victories in the social tournament against Chicago-area college and social teams.

Wisconsin defeated the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) 57-0 to open the tournament play. Additional wins against an Alumni Side of UIC and Illinois State sent Wisconsin to the tournament final to knock down the UIC Alumni side a second time for the championship.

Thanks to the milder weather, it was a fun day to warm up the boots and prepare for spring playoffs. Wisconsin backs captain Jenn Johnson applauded the team and shared that it “felt good to run around and tackle.”

Wisconsin Roster for 2016 Whiskey 10s
Brittany Aprahamian
Felicia Carlson
Sammy Clevenger
Alayna Hronek
Cori Heilman
Jenn Johnson (C)
Marissa “Fizz” Kraynak
Katie Klas
Nikki Lowden
Lauren McCormack
Kris Peterson
Sarah Pinkston
Melissa “Helga” Pohleber
Emma Zoch

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