Women’s club rugby puts fall season in rear-view mirror, sets eyes on spring hardware

Ezra Weber, Senior Staff Reporter

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Following a four-year stretch of veteran-lead deep playoff runs that included two championship runs, the Tulane club women’s rugby team has transformed into a very rookie-heavy team.

Having just finished up a fall season that sent them to two tournaments, the team is looking toward the spring. On Nov. 9, the team traveled to Mobile, Alabama, to play in the Battleship tournament. Here they lost to both the University of Alabama Birmingham and Kennesaw State University. 

The following weekend, the team traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to play in a tournament against the University of Alabama and Georgia Tech. They played one game against the University of Alabama and lost. The remaining tournament games that were to feature Alabama vs. Georgia Tech and Georgia Tech vs. Tulane were cancelled due to injuries. 

Alabama and Tulane were reduced from a full field of 15 players to 13 active players, the minimum allowed by USA Rugby. In light of this, a team combining Tulane and Alabama’s rosters faced Georgia Tech’s roster. Incomplete rosters have been a common theme for the season across many teams.

Despite a sub-par fall season, Freshman Hooker Naomi Smith has high expectations for the spring season.

“I want to do well,” Smith said. “If people uphold their commitments, I think we can do well — if people are committed to the team and care about it.”

Like much of the team, Smith is a rookie and has benefited greatly from the leadership abilities and game IQ of four key veterans Lindsey Stanek, Charlotte Ehlers, Gwen Leifer and Eva Dils.

“As a rookie and someone who has never played this sport, I feel so welcomed, and I’ve learned so much. It’s been a very positive experience,” said Smith.

While the team looks ahead to the spring season, they have their eyes on matching the accolades of the past few years where they were D2 national championships in 2016 and 2018, runner up in the 2017 championship tournament and a final 4 contestant in the Southern Independent Rugby Conference 15s at nationals.