Tears of joy fell on the pitch as William & Mary athletes were claimed victorious. The William & Mary women's club rugby team made history last month, winning the Ed and Sandy Championship in Roanoke.
The women had an undefeated season and were proclaimed state winners by the Division 2 Virginia Rugby Union. This is the first time a William & Mary rugby team (men's or women's) has ever taken a championship title.
"This was my first year coaching the women and I was really fortunate to take over a wonderful group of dedicated, enthusiastic and athletic women players," said Chris Ball, coach of the team and associate professor of psychology at the College.
For the past couple of years, the club sport has done very well winning the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union Regional Tournament and was completely student-led. With strenuous practices three times a week and the guidance of Coach Ball, the team has seen incredible results. After winning the tournament, six players were selected to represent the Virginia Rugby Union in the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Union All-star Tournament.
"Our amazing team chemistry, along with guidance from out outstanding coach has transformed us into a tenacious force this semester," said Jillian "Jilli" Jackson '11, a Kinesiology major and president of the team.
Rugby is a game that is played in over a hundred countries throughout the world. It is a form of football played with an oval ball. The object of the game is for two teams of fifteen players each, to score as many points as possible, by carrying, passing, kicking and grounding the ball with the team scoring the greater number of points being the winner of the match.
"Rugby is a very physical game, regardless of whether it is being played by men or women-with no helmets or pads. Players need to be able to run, pass, tackle, kick, ruck, scrum, and line-out," Ball said.
Many of the players on the team have not only developed a deep love for the sport but also for the friendships they have forged on and off the field.
Amanda Eclipse '10, backs captain of the team noted, "I know every person on the team well enough to call them my best friend."
The rugby club has also hosted several social events during its season. The players say they share a special bond, having deep rooted traditions such as team stories, nicknames and personal mementos passed down from alumnae of the team.
Jackson continued, "Winning is amazing but rugby doesn't stop when the match is over. I am very proud of our team and I can promise you that we will continue to grow and get better, stronger and closer than ever."