Ruggers' season ends with friends

by Susanna Henighan

The Rhino Ruggers, Oberlin's women's rugby team, ended their season last weekend with a colorful and spirited scrimmage on Saturday afternoon. Scheduled to play the University of Dayton, the team was prepared for one last hurrah before the end of the season. Dayton failed to show, however, forcing the Ruggers to use their creative energy to entertain themselves - and a small crowd of fans.

Dressed to impress in garb ranging from plaid jumpers to bathing suits, the team split into two sides and played a full-length game. Needless to say, the crowd responded with characteristic enthusiasm.

The scrimmage was the end of a hard, but very rewarding semester for the Rhino Ruggers. Many new players learned the basics of rugby, and veteran players were able to raise the intensity of their own play. Although it was a losing season for the Yeowomen, the team did improve dramatically since the first game of the semester.

The team had a very full season this past semester. Historically, Fall semester is much slower than Spring, but this year proved to be different; as the Ruggers played a total of nine games over the course of the season. The expanded schedule allowed the most experienced veterans to share all-important playing time with newcomers and novices.

The team suffered several organizational setbacks during the semester, but has continued to persevere. The biggest stumbling block was the loss of the team's coach, Liesl Strickler. Strickler, who has coached the team for the last four years since coming to Oberlin from Minneapolis, left the College for a job in California.

The team also lost a few key players early on to injury. Senior Katherine Higgins and junior Heather Foster were injured in the first game and were unable to return to the rugby field all semester.

But the Rhino Ruggers don't dwell on the past, nor do they offer excuses for their performance. The team continued to practice and improve through to the very end of the season.

Furthermore, one cannot evaluate the season without acknowledging the spirit the team exhibited off the playing field this semester. The second-semi-annual rugby scavenger hunt was a hit. Running around in costume, the Ruggers succeeded in interrupting both the most diligent A-level study-ers, and the most consumed techo fans at the 'Sco.

Although the team won't change too much before Spring semester, there will be one major loss. Senior Dina Lee is graduating. Lee, who has played rugby since her first year at Oberlin, helped coach the Ruggers with junior Vanya Hollis after Strickler's departure.

Lee is also one the team's most aggressive, athletic and best all-round players. Her absence will surely be felt in the Spring. Hollis will also be gone in the Spring, but will return for one more year of rugby for the '99-'00 seasons.

The outlook for the Spring is a good one, despite these gaps. Fall has been a valuable building season for the team. Hopefully the investments made during this semester will pay off in the Spring, when the Ruggers once again take the field.

-Susanna Henighan is a member of the women's rugby team.

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Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 10, November 20, 1998

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