MSU women’s rugby team looking to win their second conference championship

After an exciting fall season ending in a conference championship, the MSU women’s rugby team has high expectations for the spring season. With six tournaments scheduled, they will have to compete fiercely for a back-to-back championship.

In the fall, the Cats were the number one seed from the west division heading into conference playoffs. MSU beat Colorado College to continue on and face Colorado Mesa University, the No. 1 seed from the east division, to win 49-12 in an exciting game for the conference championship. The team went on to the Division II National Championship tournament on Nov. 30, only to lose in the second round to No. 2 Winona State.

The team began spring practices on Jan. 20, 2016. During the spring, the team competes in “7s rugby,” seven players for each team for two seven minute halves, with other teams in the Rocky Mountain Division II Women’s Collegiate Conference.

After the first tournament on March 26 was cancelled, MSU moved on to place first in their second tournament at Idaho State University on April 2. The tournament was set as a DII National Qualifier, but after a team dropped out, the original 7s tournament was changed to a round robin tournament.

MSU won all three games against teams from Idaho State and Utah State (twice), to gain the tournament victory. The team had a range of scorers for the tournament, including senior Stephanie Taylor, sophomore Korbin Duvall, freshman Racine Oury, junior Keeley Ireland, sophomore Dallas Flager, junior Tiffani Eccleston and sophomore Emily Dennis. Flager, the club vice president, was also voted co-MVP for the tournament.

The A team for the Bobcats placed second and the B team placed seventh in their 7s tournament at Colorado State University on April 9. The loss to Utah State was the A team’s first of the season.

On April 15, the Cats traveled to Utah State to compete in the Old Ephraim 7s tournament against Idaho State, Salt Lake Community College and Utah State. MSU competed with two teams in the tournament, an A and a B squad. The A team competed hard and won a second tournament championship after beating SLCC 32-5 and ISU 45-0. After those two wins, the team went on to play USU, who was also undefeated for the day. In a hard fought battle and a 14 point lead that was closed within two points, the Cats were able to pull out the win and earn the championship.

“Our club’s goal is to win the 7s National Qualifier at the Air Force Academy [May 7 and 8], which would get us to the 7s National Championships for the second year in a row,” MSU Head Coach Ed McKenna said. “The women have the talent to achieve whatever goals they commit themselves to.”

The MSU women’s rugby team will be hosting a “Friendly 15s” tournament Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m. on the Dobbie Lambert Intramural Fields.