Since the rugby team’s establishment in 2021, its recognition and popularity have taken Howard University by storm due to the team’s achievements. Most notably, the Women’s+ Rugby Club recently completed the fall 2022 season with a 9-0 record.
The Howard University Women’s+ Rugby Club is the second historically black college or university (HBCU) to hold this program. The club kicked off the fall 2022 season against the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Howard ran away from defeat, with a final score of 56-3. This high-performance game set the tone for the rest of the season.
Sienna Fatuesi, a senior Health Science major and forward from Seattle, Washington, spoke on keeping a winning mindset. “The Women’s+ Rugby team is full of great athletes who both come from a large background of sports and no sports background at all. After winning a game, it does get really exciting and we are proud of each other, but we remember that there are more games to win. We allow ourselves to celebrate each win and then we gather ourselves and reset,” said Fatuesi. “We treat each game as it is, a new opportunity to showcase our talent and a new opportunity to win and put our team on the map.”
The club plays its games in a ‘15s’ and ‘7s’ format. The rugby ‘15s’ is the traditional format, which includes 15 players per team. For two, forty-minute halves, everyone tackles, runs with the ball, catches, passes, and scores. The rugby ‘7s’ is the tournament version, with seven players per side. Both versions of the game require extensive teamwork, and the team members have displayed true companionship both on and off the field.
Fatuesi described what being on a team means to her saying, “Most teams that I have been on are like a family to me. They are people who support me both on the court/field and off it. They are able to hold me accountable and let me know when I am not me or when I am not giving it my all,” said Fatuesi. “Since joining the Rugby team, I have been exposed to some of my favorite teammates. These women are great athletes, great teammates, and just great people to be around. I truly believe that there is no team like a Rugby team, especially here at Howard.”
The Women’s+ club closed off their fall 2022 season with a three-round match against George Mason University. This game solidified their 9-0 record, an impressive feat for a burgeoning team. The team, coming off its inaugural season in program history, was able to draw the attention of Howard University students and other universities alike. Their success has developed a hopeful and supportive environment for the Bison.
Fatuesi continued stating, “This season made me proud. We had about a 10-15 player roster last semester and now we are looking at 30+ committed players who come out to each practice and game. Rugby can be an intimidating sport, but new players came in excited and ready to play. We chose not to play competitively for the league title so that we can allow new players to gain experience. Even with this decision, we still went undefeated. I am excited to play for the title this upcoming spring. We have proven ourselves great Rugby players and I can’t wait for more people to see that. I am looking forward to seeing the stands at Greene Stadium filled with supporters cheering us on as we push to remain undefeated for the 2022-2023 school year.”
Copy edited by Alana Matthew