Last Saturday, Sept. 11, Tech played its first matches of the season. The Jackets (0-2), who recently moved up to Division 1, faced off against two of the most established and top teams in the region, UGA (2-0) and the University of Tennessee (1-1), in Saturday’s Round Robin at Creel Park in Atlanta.
Tech women’s rugby club had a successful season last year and was named the Georgia Rugby Union Champions.
This season, however, the team is working to overcome a few setbacks in order to repeat as Champions. These setbacks include the loss of the traditional rugby practice field, the Burger Bowl, as well as a significant loss of key contributing players.
The construction on the Burger Bowl has had an effect on both the men’s and women’s rugby teams, and both teams are presently practicing at Glenn Field (the old softball field). As a result, all home rugby matches will now be held in surrounding Atlanta parks.
Tech took on the Georgia Bulldogs in the first match of the round robin, and it was the first match of the season for both teams.
Georgia, with a large percentage of returning players on the roster, scored two tries in the first half and quickly took the lead. Tech put up a strong defense in the second half, only letting in one try. The Jackets called the game early at 15-0, giving the Bulldogs the win.
The final game of the day began with a UT kickoff to Tech.
Sophomore Carmie Cuda caught the kick, leading to the first scrum of the match. UT won the scrum and gained possession. The Volunteers ran the ball to the Jacket goal line; however, the ball was held up by Tech, and no try was awarded.
A long kick off after scrum from freshman Megan Hays put the ball back into Volunteer territory.
A lost lineout caused Tech to also lose possession and the meters Hays had gained for the Jackets.
A UT interception quickly put the Volunteers back into Jackets territory. Sophomore Katelyn Randall and junior Chasity Holiday both had strong runs and together gained enough meters to push Tech inside UT’s 20 meter line.
Possession continued to change between the two teams, as each side contested every lineout and every meter gained.
Tennessee finally took the lead with another interception and ran the ball in for a try. No conversion points were awarded after the try, putting the score at 5-0 and ending the first half.
The second half proved to be much better for the Jackets. A run by junior Catherine Quesenberry gained about 40 meters. Junior Amanda Blanton, in her first season with the team, pushed through UT defense to gain 10 more meters for Tech.
Later in the match, possibly due to physical and mental exhaustion from the day, technical errors such as incomplete passes and missed tackles plagued both teams.
Late in the half, the Volunteers widened their lead with another try and conversion kick to make the score 12-0, where it would remain until the end of the match.
Despite the two losses on Saturday, Tech players and coaches viewed these round robin matches as a success for the team and especially the new rookies.
“I was very happy with the team. I thought the girls played tremendously well today…. I wanted to see how well we did with our basics and our unit skills, and I think the girls executed [them] very well,” said Head Coach Rhett Mayor
“Rugby is a hard game to learn. It’s not something you come into knowing the rules. It’s not something you have ever seen before. And [the rookies] did a fabulous job getting up to speed and catching up, and understanding what we wanted from them,” said senior Lyndzey Dare.
The Jackets will next compete and defend their title in the Georgia Rugby Union Championship in Athens on Oct. 2-3.