ON STANDS NOW: Women's rugby looks ahead to bright future

The team was invited to the Division Two Sweet Sixteen National Championship Tournament at Penn State in April.

On the corner of Van Ness Street and Nebraska Avenue, amid the impatient beeping of car horns and the passing baselines of pop radio songs, the AU women’s club rugby team practiced in a small, triangular expanse of grass that serves as their pitch. 

Rush hour’s distractions didn’t impair the focus of the team members as they transitioned from drill to drill. This diligence paid off earlier this year when the team was invited to the Division Two Sweet Sixteen National Championship Tournament at Pennsylvania State University in April.

Participating in the national tournament still remains an important goal for the team, but they’re currently concerned with adapting to the absence of a full-time coach.

The team is currently supervised by part-time coach Meghan Shamburger, an AU alumna who played rugby at AU for four years and served as team captain for one.

“Right now all three of the dynamic captains are structuring their own [practices] and sending them to Krysi Hermes, who was the full time coach last year,” Shamburger said.

Shamburger works with a few other AU women’s rugby alumni to oversee the team and its three captains: Olivia Pennock, Tess Atkins and Fatima Kamara.

Though Kamara, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, would prefer the presence of a full-time coach for the team, she is thankful for the support the team does receive from Hermes. 

“Of course it's beneficial to have a coach at every minute of practice,” Kamara said. “That isn't going to happen right now, but we will be just fine. At the beginning of the season we thought we were more alone, but Krysi is doing so much for us and we appreciate every minute of her time.”

Shamburger remains hopeful about the team’s chance of success this season, in spite of their lack of a full time coach.

“What we saw after the recruitment season is that we have a lot of dynamic, aggressive and talented rookies, and the same goes for the returners,” Shamburger said. “There’s a lot really great individuals and what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to mold these guys as a unit.”

This sense of unity is what makes women’s rugby their sport of choice, according to current members of the team. President Kirsten Franzen, a School of International Service senior, believes rugby to be a distinctive sport because of this quality. 

“Rugby is such a great and unique sport because it is aggressive and high impact, but it also has a great sense of camaraderie, even with the opposing team,” Franzen said.

AU Rugby plays every Saturday at varying locations. Find their game schedule here.


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