Rugby Queens exuberant despite loss
The final outcome was never in doubt Saturday as New Mexico Tech’s Queens rugby club were walloped 64-7 by the University of New Mexico in Socorro.
For the home team the moral victory of fielding a full 15-player team (plus one extra substitute) for the first time in several years was already won. What remained to be seen was how the coeds, of whom exactly half had only two weeks of practice experience, would emerge from the pressure and sheer punishment sure to come from a seasoned outfit accustomed to frying larger fish. Judging from various sources, the initial verdict is thumbs-up.
After losing key players to graduation last May, including integral cogs Lynnae Logan, Jade Horton and Miguela Rempkowski, the Queens’ future was uncertain. Enter Cassidy Coleman, a junior chemistry student from Las Cruces who first picked up the game a year ago. Coleman never looked back and devoted part of her summer to laying plans for the continued building of the team. Along with returning players Tonya Ross, Lisa Sanchez and Katie Trujillo, Coleman successfully attracted nearly a dozen Tech coeds into trying the unfamiliar sport of rugby football.
On the Tech practice field after final preparations Friday evening third-year center Willie Desir advised: “Ladies, this is going to be among the most intense situations you have ever experienced. Know that if we (veterans) yell at you, it’s to make you better.”
On Saturday, eight new players saw rugby action for the first time. As reinforcement, six volunteers from the New Mexico State University Lady Chiles, half of them also beginners, swelled the squad to 22.
The teams played four 20-minute periods. Not surprisingly the crimson-clad Lady Lobos immediately took the upper hand and scored five tries in the first period, mostly by taking advantage of tentative Queens tackling. The Queens’ inexperience prevented serious sustained threats of their own, yet as play progressed UNM’s scoring rate decreased as more and more Tech women overcame their initial fears of full-speed tackling.
After the first-period barrage of 31 points, Tech gradually put the brakes on UNM’s scoring machine. While not achieving absolute parity the ladies in blue did manage to score a try in the final period, ironically by guest player Megan de Villiers.
Observing play with an ice pack over one eye as play wound down, brand new lock forward Angelica Perry declared, “I’ll be all right. I wish I could go back in. I love it.”
By Sunday, one day after the near-whitewash, the Queens Rugby Facebook page was already humming: “Anyone for touch rugby tomorrow afternoon at 5:00?” Another Queen emailed: “Is morning conditioning at 7:00 or 7:30 tomorrow?”
The Queens may be short on know-how but they appear to have spirit in abundance.
The Queens are up against even tougher competition in their next match, a clash with the Atomic Sisters Rugby Club in Albuquerque on Sept. 21. The Sisters, who compete regionally in USA Rugby’s adult women’s Division 2, advanced to the national final four playoffs two years ago.
For more information about the NMT Queens Rugby Club contact rugby director Dave Wheelock at 835-5854.