Women’s rugby looks for defensive challenge against UNM

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This week in practice the BYU women’s rugby team took a step back to focus on the basics, doing the small things that will lead the team to its sought-after goal of winning a national championship.

During its 80-3 win against Utah State last week, the Cougars did not have much of an opportunity to work on a defensive game, maintaining possession of the ball about 98 percent of the time. According to members of the team, “We just kept scoring.”

“Due to the fact we haven’t had the chance for our defense to be tried, my number one concern is that our defense will be nice and tight and ready to go,” assistant coach Kara Remington said. “One of the things we need to work on is tackling. That’s why we are doing contact drills. We can’t shy away from those tackles.”

The team matches up against the University of New Mexico in its first home match on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fort Utah Park, looking for its first real test of the season.

UNM’s women’s rugby has existed since 2000 and over the years has become a reputable program, making on and off appearances in the United States Western Division Playoffs as well as the United States Sweet 16.

“They are a good team,” Remington said. “We are going to encounter bigger, stronger and even faster girls at New Mexico. They are a more experienced program and they are going to be better coached than the other teams we have played. When we see a better side in New Mexico we will be ready to take them on.”

Last year, BYU and UNM qualified for the Sweet 16 and shared similar experiences on the hopeful roads to the championship.  The main difference between the losses the two teams shared was the margin of defeat. Army hammered UNM by a score of 75-5 and sneaked by BYU 30-21.

Veterans on the BYU team recollect winning the matchups against UNM, but regardless of the past, the Cougars look to use every game as a stepping stone to reach their goal of taking home the title.

“Honestly, you can never expect the same things to happen year after year,” Rebekah Siebach said. “All the teams around the nation do not have enough returnees and veterans to continually have a strong team each year. They all end up recruiting around, taking players from other sports and teaching the game. It could go either way.”

Jordan Gray, a freshman from Alberta, Canada, and one of the only players with rugby experience before coming to BYU, shared similar feelings about needing to take every game one step at a time.

“You don’t have to worry about the other team,” Gray said. “You just have to worry about how you and your team plays and the rest of it will fall into place.”

BYU will also face Colorado, Colorado State and Air Force in upcoming weeks. The teams make up the newly formed Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference.

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