The Union Men’s and Women’s Rugby teams are often overlooked by the campus community. While this disregard is surely not out of spite, it is definitely undeserved.
This year, the Dutchwomen have lost only one game and, while the Dutchmen are not having the most fruitful season, they have been very successful in the past, winning the state championship in 2013. For the men, this year has been dubbed a “rebuilding year.”
Recently, an exciting opportunity arose for the men’s and women’s rugby teams.
USA Rugby Women’s Sevens Manager, Video Analyst and Assistant Coach Joanne Kos offered to lead one of the teams’ practices. Kos was initially set to come on April 22, but the weather had other plans. Practice was rained out and Kos’ visit was rescheduled to April 29.
Being coached by Kos will prove to be a great learning experience for the teams, as she started the sport in a similar way to most rugby players here.
At Union, rugby is a club sport and about 99 percent of the students who participate have had no prior exposure to the sport. Olivia Thurston ’16, President of the Women’s Team, echoed this idea, “Anyone who is willing can play.”
Likewise, Kos didn’t begin playing rugby until she got to college.
She attended SUNY-ESF on the Syracuse University campus and played rugby through SU. A natural athlete, she excelled at the sport and eventually started playing on the USA Women’s Rugby National Sevens Team.
She played with the team from 2001 until her retirement in 2011. From there, she made the jump from playing to coaching.
According to Kos, “The transition was easy since I had been peer-coaching throughout college. I had a lot to share with my teammates from my experiences on the National Team.”
On top of her work with the National Team, Kos also coaches the Albany Knickerbocker’s men’s team and travels to colleges in the Capital Region to coach and share her wisdom.
When she arrives at Union, Kos will see a strong Dutchwomen squad. In their spring season, which consists mostly of tournaments, the Dutchwomen have only dropped one game, to SUNY Albany.
The teams kicked off their spring season with a spring break trip to Nashville, Tenn., that went well for the Dutchwomen.
The ladies also traveled to a game at St. Michael’s, which they won. Then, they dominated in another tournament at SUNY Albany.
The men’s team is captained by Tim Hagan ’16 and Xavier Capaldi ’16, while Alexis MacDonald ’16 and Alicia Palmer ’15 are captains for the Dutchwomen.
Key players on the men’s side include Hagan and Essah Chisholm ’17, and MacDonald, along with her sister Lindsay MacDonald ’18 and Maya Bauer-Moshi ’17 for the women’s team.
When asked about what draws them to rugby, both Thurston and Kos raved about the unique experiences one can gain through the sport.
According to Kos, “Rugby pulls in a really unique collection of people. In college, everyone on my rugby team had different majors. It allows for you to bond on a whole different level.”
Thurston explained the dynamic between the men’s and women’s teams saying, “During practice, we share the field and we share equipment, but off the field we get a chance socially mix. After our games, we have socials where we recognize the MVP’s and acknowledge anyone who scored their first try. Our coach always says the social aspect of rugby is half the game.”
The women have a home game agaisnt RPI on May 9, and new players are always welcome at their Tuesday-Friday practices from 4:30-6 p.m.00