A last minute cancellation left the Williams Women’s Rugby Football Club (WWRFC) scrambling for a match on Saturday, but after a barrage of calls and e-mails, the team was able to compete in the Best of the West tournament, an annual spring event in Amherst.
The White Dawgs knew they had a tough assignment heading into the weekend, since they would be playing in a higher division. In the opener against UMass Amherst, the team showed not only heart, but also an understanding of positioning, a strength it lacked in the previous weekend. The line held fast in the face of a continual overload by the UMass fullback. Consistent first tackles from flyhalf Sarah Franklin ’10 kept the ball slow out of the pack. The pack also held up well against the traditional powerhouse scrum from UMass. The inexperienced front row of Xio Pinto ’12 and Clair Embry ’11 learned quickly and was hitting faster and crabbing in the face of multiple wheeling attempts by the end of the game.
The second game paired the WWRFC against Yale, a more evenly matched opponent. The first part of the game remained close until a break in the Williams defense led to a Yale try, which brought the game to 5-0 at the half.
Unfortunately, in the second half the Bulldogs pinpointed a weakness in the WWRFC defense and capitalized. Crashing cuts from the outside back toward the pack slashed through the White Dawgs and resulted in more tries for the Bulldogs. A few glimmers of hope for the Dawgs cropped up when Morgan Phillips-Spotts ’09 had some beautiful runs off of penalty plays and Katie Zipps ’11 produced some strong runs down the weak side. Their efforts, however, were not enough to turn the game around.
After watching the A-side retreat from the field bruised and bloodied, the Killer Bs were ready for some action. They laced up against a very formidable foe, the A-Side from UConn. Undaunted, the Bs showed considerable talent and improvement throughout the game.
Aubree Stephens ’12 looked stellar in her debut as scrum half, and did a good job distributing the ball between the line and scrum. Jessica De La Cuesta ’12 also performed well, tackling solidly and demonstrating good instincts when running with the ball. Maggie Tucker ’09 had a wonderful tournament, playing the entirety of all three games and consistently being the first scrummy to hit any ruck.
“Playing three teams in one day is exhausting, particularly when they are in a division above your own, but the White Dawgs tackled the tournament with their usual tenacity,” co-captain Brittni Micham ’10 said. “We learned a lot and improved incredibly in just one day.”
Overall, the tournament provided the WWRFC with excellent competition, and the White Dawgs made great progress both between their previous tournament and between the games of this tournament. The WWRFC plays next week at home against Keene State. Kickoff will be at 11 a.m.