Club rugby turns heads

The women’s club rugby team has taken Oswego State by storm. Playing with a ball half the size of a normal football, running for nearly an hour and a half, and tackling each other bone to bone, the team has played its best season in over a decade.

Led by junior captain Nicole Snyder the Black Widows finished off the 2011 campaign 4-1 and earned a No. 2 seed in the upcoming New York State Rugby Conference Playoffs.

“We had a really good season,” Snyder said, “We really relied on each other during every match.”

Highlighted by a thrilling 9-8 victory over Clarkson to open up the season, in which all the points were scored off of penalty kicks, the Black Widows notched wins at SUNY Oneonta and home against SUNY Potsdam. Their only loss came against SUNY Plattsburgh, whom finished the season undefeated.

“There are only two girls who have more than two years [on the team],” Snyder said. “But we formed a tight bond at the beginning of the season and we play hard every game.”

Injuries occur often in rugby so it is important to fully understand the game.

“You have to think about every situation,” said first year player Rikki Terrance. “Making eye contact is the key because if you don’t make eye contact with your teammates and they throw you the ball, you could get blindsided and your risk for injury would be higher.”

Rugby is a sport where players need a lot of endurance. Teams play two 40-minute halves that barely stop unless there is a major head injury.

“You are constantly running,” Terrance said. “We dedicate at least half our practice to conditioning drills. You are almost always in a crouch position so conditioning truly help.”

As for the playoffs, the Black Widows know they will be ready to win.

“A lot of teams over look us,” Terrance said. “The fall season is where we make a name for ourselves.”

This is the first year in over a decade that the Oswego State women’s rugby team has made the playoffs.

The Black Widows are the No. 2 seed out of the East Division. They will take on No. 1 seed St. Bonaventure on Sunday. The other semifinal will pit Plattsburgh, the No. 1 seed from the East, Plattsburg against St. John Fisher, the No. 2 seed from the West.

“I just give a lot of encouragement to my teammates, we all work together and when we do, we play well,” Snyder said of her role in preparing her teammates.

“Our entire focus will have to be there,” Terrance said. “We are going to be more technical with our moves and even extend some practices to make sure we have everything down.”

If the Black Widows win this weekend and their upstate rival, Plattsburgh prevails as well, it will set up a rematch where Oswego State will look to avenge a loss from earlier in the year.

There are a few more steps in this year’s journey for the women’s rugby team, but everyone seems to overlook the talent that they possess.

“I would say we are a Cinderella story,” Terrance said.

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