Photos by Alex Gorden and Jesse Carey
The Wayne State College women’s rugby team brought home the gold from Atlanta, Georgia, after winning its seventh national championship.
The Wildcats won Saturday 78-7 against Gustavus Adolphus and 46-26 against Bentley University on Sunday.
“We were definitely running on all eight cylinders on Saturday,” said head coach Darrin Barner. “Everything went perfect.”
The women’s game plan was to use the forwards to bunch up their opponent’s defense and then spin the ball fast and wide, out to their backline and use their speed to score.
“Sunday, however, we had to concentrate on defense,” Barner said. “Bentley had a very strong running game that we had to stop.”
While Wayne was mostly on defense, the women still managed to pull off a 20-point win with the final score ending at 46-26.
The team put in four hours of film time Saturday night, watching Bentley’s semi-final game and trying to nail down a final game plan.
The game was a battle, with the score being 17-12 at half time. When asked when he knew they had won, Barner said that there was a very important turning point in the game.
“Bentley was strong and powerful,” Barner said. “They kept coming back to keep the game close. In the middle of the second half, when Bentley scored we were only up by one score, and Bentley had all of the momentum on their side. Then we had an incredible 60 yard run by one of our props, Julia Baxter. She bulldozed four defenders and outran the pursuit of the defensive backline. That score was a big-time momentum change at a critical moment in the middle of the second half.”
At the beginning of the season the team had been recovering from the loss
of 12 quality seniors, and managed to pull off an undefeated season even after playing big teams including Missouri, Iowa and Kansas State.
“While we lost a very athletic and offensively explosive senior class, I’m not surprised of the leadership on this team,” Barner said. “This senior class has won a national title every year they were here, and I knew deep down they could rise to the occasion, but because the entire roster is so young, I also knew it would be a challenge.”
The captains of the team, Turner MacPhee and Leanna Rosberg, were also pleased with how the season went. Rosberg got MVP of the entire tournament.
“We really stepped up and played some good rugby over the last few days,” said MacPhee. “It was a really rewarding weekend and I’m proud of how all of our young girls have played.”
“I think the team did very well this season. We stepped up and played our best in the national championship games. I am very proud of each and every one of the girls for being so determined and hardworking all season long.” Rosberg said.
Barner also said that the win wasn’t just because of the hard work, he explained that team work is what wins championships.
“A team that plays with heart, passion and pride will always defeat a team with more talent. It’s not about winning a game, but a national title and having a memory for an entire lifetime,” Barner said. “It was earned by all by their efforts and dedication.”