Published: Friday, March 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 00:03
Photo courtesy of Megan Richardson ‘14
The women’s club rugby team is headed to Ireland for the first time in six years.
Women’s rugby coach Kevin Castner has wanted to take a trip to Ireland for a few years now.
“We’ve mentioned it year to year to year to year,” he said. “But we needed to make sure we had the numbers to do it.”
Now, the coach has “more than enough” active players—19—to make this dream a reality. The women’s rugby team will spend their 2013 spring break in the Emerald Isle, a year after their male counterparts took a trip to the Bahamas.
“We’re pretty excited,” Megan Richardson ‘14 said.
This isn’t the first time Castner has taken the team to Ireland. Six years ago, he took the team on a similar trip, but he wanted to make sure he had a good group before he did it again.
“I would like the stability of the team to be solid first before we could ever do that,” Castner said. “We also have a couple alumni who expressed an interest in chaperoning. They’re definitely good role models for the current players to look after.”
The team has a stacked itinerary from the 24th to the 31st. Castner describes the trip as a “rugby tour.” Highlights include training sessions with U.S. national scrum coach Derek Dowling, Connacht Academy coach Nigel Carolan, Trinity College Dublin F.C., and watching two top rugby clubs face off with Leinster vs. Ulster.
“I’m really excited for the pro game,” Richardson said. “The fans are going to be awesome and they’re going to be so excited. Seeing high-level rugby is such a huge step up from the usual.”
“[Coach Castner] always makes us watch the games on YouTube,” Sarah Faust ‘14 said. “It isn’t nearly as exciting.”
Just a few prerequisites were needed to make this trip a reality.
“It simply came down to commitment and fundraising activities,” he said. “The players did anything they could to make it possible, asked around for donations, did whatever odd jobs they could get their hands on.”
The trip is completely player-funded—using none of the money the club team gets from student government.
“The letter-writing campaign did really well,” Faust said. “The team also sold t-shirts for the Laf-Lehigh football game [the “Said No One Ever” edition] and also delivered bagels.”
Richardson said the amount of money raised per person was around $1,700.
Rachel Loven ‘14 said she’s looking forward to the promise of shared memories with her teammates.
“I just want to come back from Ireland feeling a lot more bonded with my teammates,” Loven said. “We’re already friends, but I want something that’s inseparable.”
Richardson said she’s most looking forward to spending time in a true rugby-focused culture.
“Rugby’s such a big deal over there,” the junior captain said. “Here, it’s more of a, not a side sport but not a national sport. Over there, it’s a common thing that people have. It’ll be awesome to be able to play with people who are just as passionate about it.”
The team will be playing two matches, one against Old Belvedere’s Women’s Rugby Club in Dublin and one against the Galwegians Women’s Rugby Club in Galway. Both of the teams are what Coach Castner describes as “very good top women’s clubs.”
The trip is not going to be all rugby and no play, however. The squad has many free evenings, a training session with a Gaelic hurling coach, a tour of the International Rugby Board headquarters, and the Guinness beer factory.
“It’ll be awesome,” Richardson said. “We’re going over to play, but we’re also getting all these cultural experiences. We’re trying to make the most of it.”