It’s been a long break but the UCSB women’s rugby team is back and in great form after a decisive 36-0 win over Claremont McKenna last Sunday.
Although the match had originally been scheduled to take place in Santa Barbara, the team was forced to play in Claremont, due to lack of field space at home. Despite the change of plans and lack of home field advantage, the Gauchos dominated Division II Claremont.
“They are a Division II team so we knew they would be on a lower level than us,” senior flanker Phoebe Boone said. “But, we always try to play them once in preseason to get our rookies some playing time.”
Although rugby is typically played over two 40-minute halves, the preseason game was split into four 20-minute quarters to enable more frequent lineup adjustments. The first quarter saw Santa Barbara’s returning veterans together on the field for the first time in six months — while the other three-quarters gave the team’s rookies a chance to play.
“Starting with our vets in the first quarter was good for us because we haven’t played together for six months,” Boone said. “It was good for us to get out there and play together as a team.”
The team had only been practicing together for two weeks prior to Sunday’s match, but it was apparently significantly more than Claremont, whose rookies hadn’t been instructed on how to make a proper tackle. Santa Barbara’s rookies had little difficulty adapting to the physical demands of the sport.
“Our rookies played ridiculously well,” Boone said. “We’re not worried about the season because we have so much depth.”
Southern California Rugby Football Union Division I play does not start until Jan. 21 when UCSB will take on traditionally tough Arizona State University.
Preseason play continues Oct. 29, when both the UCSB men and women’s rugby team will participate in Santa Barbara Rugby Day in Elings Park in Santa Barbara off of Las Positas Road. Information for those interested in attending or trying out for the team can be found at www.ucsbwomensrugby.org.