WCU holds up a USNA try attempt during the second half of play. Photo by Holly Davies.
After facing Davenport University (DU), West Chester will travel to Frostburg State University (FSU) in the first matchup between the universities.
FSU announced that the women’s rugby program was elevated to varsity last Aug. 2022. The team played their first match on Sep. 9 2023 against Division III Bowdoin University, losing 55–5.
“It’s been our goal for years now to keep adding teams to reach 40 varsity teams,” head coach Tony DeRemer said. “We are elated to see that Frostburg has elevated their rugby team.”
As an emerging sport, NCAA rugby is played in the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA). NIRA Division I has 11 teams, NIRA Division II has seven teams now that Queens University of Charlotte was raised to D1, and NIRA Division III has nine teams.
“Many teams that are elevated are D1 or D3, so it’s nice to add into our conference,” DeRemer said.
WCU started their season slow with their 38–3 loss to USNA and traveled to DU with just 17 players.
“We’ve had a tough start to the season with injuries, COVID cases and other medical issues, many of which will be returning to practice this week,” DeRemer said.
With players at home unable to practice in person, many watched film from FSU’s or WCU’s recent games.
“I have been watching film and just trying to gain as much knowledge,” sophomore Jade McCool said.
The Golden Rams are focused on improvements going into the week leading up to the match.
“I expect the team to start pulling together this week and improving our performance week in and week out,” DeRemer said.
FSU played their first match while the Golden Rams traveled home from USNA. The livestream from the Elite Girls Rugby League (EGRL)’s YouTube channel allowed players to scope out the competition.
“It also helps having a roommate that is a referee and helps point those things out,” McCool said. “I’m not the best at watching film so he has helped me a lot in what to look for.”
McCool played her first A-side game for the Golden Rams against USNA and is looking to build off of her first start in the week leading up to the match against FSU.
“It was very exciting, I’ve been waiting for that for about a year now,” McCool said. “I have so much room to grow and improve off that.”
With some veteran players out, newer players have gotten the chance to see more playing time.
“It’s been very nice to get the young players varsity experience,” DeRemer said, “but it will also be nice to have some veteran leadership on the field.”
With FSU being a new varsity program, there are a lot of unknowns.
“There is always a learning curve when elevating to varsity status, but I fully expect Frostburg to rise to the occasion,” DeRemer said.
FSU has had their first match, but not their first home match or conference match. The match on Sept. 23 against WCU will be both for FSU.
“I look forward to playing Frostburg and welcoming them to the NIRA conference,” DeRemer said.
The Golden Rams have played two matches so far this season against USNA (38–3 loss) and DU (155–6 loss).
The next match will be the home opener against the University of New Haven (UNH) on Oct. 7. The last matchup between WCU and UNH ended in a 66–0 win for the Golden Rams.
Ty Hickey is a third-year Media and Culture major with a minor in Chinese. CH983713@wcupa.edu