The women’s club rugby team will only play in a handful of 15s matches this season after seeing a spurt of growth in the fall season. The team was originally slated to play UNC-Chapel Hill on Feb. 7, but the game was canceled and not rescheduled.
In its first match of the season, on Feb. 22, the team faced a strong Clemson Tigers team that has historically given the Pack a hard time, evidenced by a close loss last year. This year, with younger players on board, the Wolfpack saw a stinging 43-5 loss over the weekend. However, the team is taking the loss as a learning opportunity, with an emphasis on personal growth as a cohesive unit.
“I’m just excited for the season, because we actually had a lot of people graduate last season,” said senior club president Amy Hogan. “I’m excited to see how our basically new team grows. We have a lot of new players from this past year that either have one or two years of experience, so it’s going to be really cool to see how they grow and how our team grows.”
The only Wolfpack score against Clemson came from senior Monica Butler, one of the core veterans on the team. Despite not making much noise in its first game, the team has a young group that it is really excited about, including freshmen hard-hitters Josie McGlynn and Desirae Haynes.
“We have a new girl named Josie [McGlynn] who’s in the backline,” Hogan said. “She has been playing for a semester, and she’s absolutely killing it.”
Meanwhile, Haynes is seeing the field a great deal for a freshman due to the fact that she came onto the team amidst some turnover for the team.
“We also have a new fullback this year,” said senior co-captain Alyssa “Rooster” Cox. “Our fullback last year graduated, and so we are looking forward to seeing [Haynes] out there, because we feel like she’s one where you underestimate her a lot, but she’s a hard hitter. I expect people to get surprised by her.”
Cox, along with Hogan and fellow co-captain Amanda Bentley, are all expected to have strong seasons in their senior campaigns. Cox in particular has been a staple of the team across the years and has flashed great athleticism in her time as a leader for the team. After a hard loss, it will be up to Cox, Bentley and Hogan to step up in the locker room and ensure that younger players don’t put their heads down right away.
“Honestly, I just think the big thing is encouraging people to come to practice, to work on skills outside of practice,” Hogan said. “We have supplemental practices on Wednesdays, film review on Fridays, so even just going to those, you learn so much, even through just watching, doing small skillsets. Really just hyping everyone up, because if you are a downer in practice, no one is going to want to do anything.”
With a young team, growing close is the ultimate goal, though winning a couple of games along the way would cement confidence in the group. With all of the club leadership being seniors this year, there will be turnover with the team again after this season, so the team will need to make sure to battle harder in its final two scheduled games of the year in order to pass on a winning culture to the next class of players.
“I think the thing with the big turnover on our team is just making sure everyone is comfortable enough with each other and building that trust so that on the pitch, we can be super smooth and know where everyone is and be there for each other,” Hogan said.
Next up for the club is the only home match of the semester, against Virginia Tech at Method Fields. The match begins at 11 a.m. and will be the only opportunity for NC State fans to get a look at the prospects who will helm the future of the club this season.