The University of Richmond Women's Club Rugby team has been nothing short of phenomenal this year.
In its fifth year as a program -- and first season since the COVID-19 pandemic -- the team finished undefeated for the first time after its final tournament this past weekend. With two blowouts against Longwood University and Virginia Commonwealth University, it came down to their final game against Emory & Henry College.
Two successful goal kick attempts by junior and co-captain Jocelyn Hernandez became the deciding factor of the game. A goal kick is worth two points, and it is attempted after every try, or what most people often misidentify as a “touchdown.”
Emory & Henry failed two goal kicks, which ended up haunting them when the final whistle blew.
The tournaments are known as “Rugby 7s” -- seven players per side matchup with halves comprising seven minutes each, which is different from the classic game with 15 players per side and 40-minute halves. Despite UR’s small team of only 18 members, the squad’s great play on the field was not hindered.
Despite the short span that the team has been together due to the pandemic and its recent founding, the team kept its head up, persevered throughout the tough times and found success. Many factors contributed to the team’s success, including the continuous efforts and dedication to the team that every member has put in.
Hernandez, who has been on the team since her freshman year, pointed out the players’ continuous work throughout COVID-19, which helped them gain a step on opponents.
“We continued practicing throughout COVID, even though we knew we weren’t going to play,” Hernandez said. “We continued to recruit, and other teams did not, and it has shown in our games.”
The team has come a long way since Hernandez’s freshman year. Back then, the team did not have enough players and or even a coach. Since then, the team has recruited new players and found itself a coach, Victoria Whydell.
Coach Vicky, as the team calls her, played rugby at the University of Michigan and committed to coaching this team by taking courses to become a certified coach. She has helped guide and perfect the team as a group throughout the season.
Rugby is a team sport where everyone must contribute to be successful, and this team has shown their ability to work together as a whole and their record has shown that.
“Everyone brings something to the table,” Hernandez said. “Everyone has a position to play.”
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Senior Sadie Taylor, team president and co-captain with Hernandez, could be considered the glue of the team, Hernandez said. Organizing practices, setting up games and making sure the team is prepared are just some aspects of her role, as well as being a standout player on this undefeated team.
In addition to the high-level performance of the team as a group, its top scorer, senior Tiara Fulmore, has been unstoppable wherever she plays. Although she started as a wing, Fulmore found her success after she switched to a forward, a position that put her speed to the team’s advantage.
The team has been a powerhouse throughout the year, but it has had its fair share of close games. The team’s toughest opponents -- Virginia Military Institute, Roanoke College and Emory & Henry -- have brought challenges to this persistent team, but were not a match for UR. The coach and players’ preparation and continuous effort through the past couple of years have helped them overcome their opponents and overcome their opponents.
Contact sports writer Anderson Coll at email@example.com.
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