Club hopes to become top program in the state

The women’s rugby club has made a huge splash over the last couple of years.

Since taking over the team in the fall of 2009, head coach Trevor Alfred has set his team on an upward climb. Through hard work and dedication, the club has ascended to the ranks of other highly touted south Florida schools, beating the likes of the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, and the University of Central Florida.

In February, FIU faced one of its major challenges, Ruggerfest. Ruggerfest is a large, competitive rugby tournament held annually in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. FIU entered the tournament one year removed from losing every single game they played at Ruggerfest the previous year. This year proved to be different.

FIU defeated rival FAU, then took down UM, and in the championship match, they beat out UCF to take home the Ruggerfest Tournament Championship in the women’s collegiate division.

“It was amazing, we played FAU with only 14 players because it was so early in the morning, and UM was a fun game. But to defeat UCF was the biggest accomplishment, they are a very good team,” said junior captain Victoria Villa.

The victory over UCF was not only significant because the tournament championship was on the line, but also because UCF was the top ranked team in the state.

“They are vicious, they get after people, and they did not back down from UCF one bit…they were expecting us to lay down,” Alfred described, referring to the approach the team took when they faced UCF.

The main season for the Rugby Club is during the spring, when they play games appointed to them by the Florida Rugby Union, also called matrix games. During the summer, the team plays in the Beerfoot 7’s tournament out in Ft. Myers.

In between the main season and tournaments, the athletes seldom have time off. Alfred installs strict workout plans that the team follows during their off season.

“They are coming for us, but the thing is, over the summer they are not training and that’s where I believe we will find an advantage. Because right now Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays our young ladies are running hills and they are running out on Miami Beach, out in the sand,” said Alfred.

The fact that the team has invested rigorously into their off-season training should prove to be the difference when facing opponents who now have no choice but to view FIU as a formidable counterpart.

“They are taking their training seriously. The other teams, they’re focused on partying and having a good time. These young women, they are focused on winning and making a name for FIU women’s rugby,” said Alfred. “Dedication is the key. They have learned the game, they are fit enough to play the game, now there’s the mental part of it.”

Their dedication comes from the camaraderie amongst the players. According to Villa, what sets rugby apart from other sports is “the bonds that are built between the players and the opposing teams.” After a rugby match, both teams unite in what they call a “social”. All the players and coaches get together and “celebrate being ruggers.” In the socials, players for both teams discuss the game and how their seasons are going. The coaches also participate; they share a common goal in bringing rugby to the young women here.

“It takes a special type of person to play rugby,” Alfred said. “Rugby is the only sport in the world where you go out and you compete, and you knock the tar out of someone or they knock it out of you, but then afterwards you’re friends again. There are other sports where they have these rivalries and the play and they hate each other. Rugby is not like that, we leave it on the field.”

The women’s rugby club is a team on the rise. They are a team that does not want to be limited to a small taste of success.

“We have a lot of heart and fantastic coaches. We are aiming for greatness,” Villa said. “Our journey is what we make it.”

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