WAYNE – For the 13th time in the past eight years, combined with 15s and 7s, the Wayne State College women’s rugby program returned to campus with a championship trophy.
Classmates and teammates were joined by faculty, staff and several members of the Wayne State College student body cheering on the Wildcats as they entered the Kantar Student Center Atrium Monday afternoon.
Senior co-captain Isabelle Robinson (prop, Australia) was named the tournament MVP. Robinson said they worked as a team and it was a lot of fun.
“We worked as a team to get it there and bring it home, so just really always just fun,” said Robinson. “Anytime you go to the championship, it’s always together than in-season. So, we knew we had to work hard and going against undefeated teams we knew they were going to work hard, so just had to step it up.”
Along with Robinson, junior Selma Taylor, senior co-captain Lauren Nelson, junior Ashton Hurley and junior Taylor Ference were listed among the All-Tournament Team.
Taylor talked about the championship match.
“They were a very good team, very good team,” Taylor added. “We spent a lot of time watching film and trying to figure out everything about them and we had a really good strategy coming in there to beat them.”
Co-captain Nelson also enjoyed the experience and returning with the trophy while also passing a message along to the underclassmen.
“That was awesome I smiled right away, I wasn’t expecting a lot of people to be here, but it was really nice to see that” Nelson mentioned. “Just put in the work. It’s pretty difficult at the beginning but it pays off. That’s how we beat people, we outwork them.”
It was just over 1,000 miles to and 1,000 back from the Tennessee Rugby Park in Knoxville, Tennessee over a handful of days.
Coach Darrin Barner said it was exciting to bring back some more hardware.
“Nice and shiny and passed around and lifted over a lot of heads over the weekend,” said Barner. “But a lot of hard work with the strength to raise this thing up again. I guess the journey continues and the winning continues, it’ been a fantastic year.”
Opening the weekend on Saturday, the top-seeded Wildcats started slow against #16 Northern Michigan only leading 7-5 during the first 15 minutes of the match. WSC then kicked it into high gear and won 96-5.
In the other semifinal, #6 New York Cortland defeated #3 Lee University, 39-12.
In the championship match on Sunday, Wayne State College again won handily by the score of 72-10 over NY Cortland. Northern Michigan placed third with a 53-19 victory over Lee.
WSC finished the season with a perfect 10-0 record defeating two other previously undefeated teams.
The United States Rugby International team also had scouts attend talking with some of the players to try out for the Under-23 Team.
“We got a nice little nest egg here at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska that other high school rugby programs those players are looking to going to a really good school, a tier-one school,” Barner added. “The value of our education here with our tuition and our rugby program is certainly a spotlight with us coming off this bright trophy here.”
The Fall 2021 15s national title marks the 13th overall in program history for the Wayne State women in the past eight years who will next prepare for the 7s season.
The team visited the Knoxville, Tennessee Theatre which was redone from the 1930s and were able to take a one-hour tour.
The Wayne State College men’s rugby team is also back in action this coming weekend in search for their first national championship during the Men’s NCR 15s Final Four in Houston, Texas.
On Friday, December 10, unranked Wayne State College will open with #18 Western Oregon at 2 p.m. with #21 College of Charleston starting the day off against #17 Siena at noon. The third place match will be played at 10 a.m. on Sunday, December 12 along with the championship match at noon also on Sunday.
Coach Barner wanted to emphasize the women’s and men’s teams are all one program.
“We practice together, we have fun together, we do everything together and as you see when we all came in on the women’s side the guys team was here cheering us on. I want nothing more to get that national championship for the men, come on in here and have that women’s team screaming along when they get off the bus.”
Coach Barner is back on a bus in less than 24 hours after the women return on another roughly 1,000-mile trip down to AVEVA Stadium in Houston, Texas.