Sacred Heart University’s Queen of Hearts Women’s Rugby Club had origins in the 1990’s before becoming an NCAA D1 varsity-sport in the fall of 2015. Since then, competing in the NIRA as a fairly new program, they have been holding up well. This season already they sit 3-2, stomping Molloy twice and Castleton with a point differential of 262-46 in those matches.
Coach Michelle Reed spoke about differences from this season compared to last: “The learning curve has shrunk.” With more women coming in with rugby experience it “helps elevate the level of play quickly and we can fine-tune fundamental skills while teaching strategy.”
Reed went on to describe how the program sets the team to “develop into better individuals and work through any adversity that faces us while staying grounded. We expect the student-athletes to learn to adjust to difficult situations on and off the field.”
Some of those situations off of the field is how “this team understands the bigger picture of what our program, in the infancy of Women’s NCAA Rugby, is trying to do. We recognize that even though the teams we play are our competition, and we want to win, that we want them to be successful as a program too.” Sometimes that means making a harder decision for your own club to benefit another.
“We value each human being and we invite diversity onto the team. We want student-athletes from all backgrounds and we’re accepting of that. We know if we do that and we have that character build into our team culture, winning will come, but first we have to start with a team foundation. That foundation starts with individual growth because we know better people make better athletes. Two of our mottos are ‘Earn Everything’ and ‘Love the Struggle.’”
While firstly stating that every member of the team has a role to play and none of those roles should be diluted, Reed highlighted some standout players this season. Isabel Cuddy, a freshman wing and one of the top scorers, is great on the outside and continues to be set up well by her teammates. Sophomores Allie Rinaldi and Tyffany Brisbane, fly- and scrum-half duo, “are the leaders you hear from the sideline. They are very good at organizing and directing our team. Our senior, Margaret Woods, who was our team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016-17, is continuing with her hard hits and adding more offensive runs this year providing some energy to our offensive.” Woods was also an All-American honorable mention in 2016.
Coming back to the two losses on the record, Reed was happy with the learning opportunities they presented to the team. “Bowdoin was a very close match and we ended the day proud of our accomplishments.” She mentioned how the team learned more about communication, filling your role, and never giving up on matches. “University of New England was a wake-up match for the team. UNE is a tough team that has an aggressive style of play. We had not experienced this in-your-face defense all season and it challenged us… Since the UNE game, we have been concentrating on attacking more on offense and defense and how to communicate with each other in chaos.”
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