Rugby Wins Second National Title

Gabbi Riggi and Tom Cunningham

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Hamden– The Quinnipiac Bobcats rugby team are national champions again, upending top-seeded Wildcats 46-24 to win their second straight National Championship, just the second title for any program in Quinnipiac athletics history.

Becky Carlson’s Quinnipiac women’s rugby team entered the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) National Championship on Sunday as the reigning National Champions, but still seemed like the underdog. The Bobcats took on the Wildcats of Central Washington University, a team that had defeated Quinnipiac the last three times the team played each other.

The match on Sunday was the second time the Bobcats and Wildcats faced off against each other this season. In October, Quinnipiac traveled to Washington and fell 19-12, a game that ended Quinnipiac’s 11-game winning streak. Central Washington came in to the National Championship with an impressive 9-2 record, with its only two losses coming against Canadian teams.

The Wildcats took care of their United States opponents in dominating fashion, by an average of nearly 40 points per contest. The Bobcats, however, were just as dominant throughout the season, going 11-1, also dominating their opponents by an average of over 50 points per game. Both Quinnipiac and Central Washington came in to the NIRA National Championship playing some of the best rugby, and proved to be the two best teams in the county time and time again.

Quinnipiac took care of Penn State in its final game of the regular season by a final of 41-22, handing Penn State its first Division I Collegiate loss in five years. This victory gave the Bobcats all the momentum they needed to propel them to a second straight National Championship.

Quinnipiac opened up the NIRA playoffs against West Chester, and easily disposed of the Golden Rams 94-15. The Bobcats then traveled to take on the Black Knights, and host of the tournament in Army. Quinnipiac defeated Army in the National Championship last season.

This season, the Bobcats took care of the Black Knights in the NIRA Semifinals. Quinnipiac took down host Army 65-8 on Friday afternoon at West Point behind three tries from Flora Poole and two from Ilona Maher.

With the victory on Friday, it set up the rematch between Quinnipiac and Central Washington. Quinnipiac dominated Central Washington in the title game; a different result from the three previous matches between the two teams. Central Washington came out of the gate strong, opening up an early 12-0 lead. The Bobcats would not be down for long though, as Maher scored the first try of the afternoon for the Bobcats off a 40-yard try with the assist going to Mason Johnson. Just minutes later Emily Roskopf scored a try and a conversion kick by Madison Gegeckas tied the game at 12. The two teams then traded tries to end the first half tied at 17.

The two teams came out in the second half and each scored another try to make it a tie game at 24. The Bobcats would go on to score 22 straight points against the stout Wildcats’ defense to clinch their second straight National Championship. The Bobcats used a balanced offensive attack to dismantle the Wildcats’ defense.

Becky Carlson and he team used this offensive attack to confuse teams and keep teams back on their heels on defense the entire season. Players like Flora Poole, Emily Roskopf, Ilona Maher, Maggie Myles, Taylor Schussler, and Mason Johnson among others all have the chance to impact the game for the Bobcats in so many different ways. Quinnipiac proved to be the most athletic, most balanced, best coached, and best prepared team in the entire country.