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By Gerianne Wright
Controlled chaos. That’s rugby in a nutshell.
And the SUNY Plattsburgh women’s rugby team likes a bit of chaos — controlled or otherwise — in their lives.
“There’s no nice way for things to happen in rugby, but it’s good. It’s a lot of fun,” said Carly Farrone, club secretary and player on this year’s Empire Rugby Football Union, Geographical Union championship team.
“There are safety rules,” Coach John Bradley ’85 interjected. “There is soft padding they can wear, but none of you guys wear it,” he said to his captains and officers who gathered in December to talk about the sport and their recent championship win.
“We’re not soft,” said Amanda Hebert, the team’s president. “Ever get really stressed and want to hit things? We get to do that all the time. Injuries?”
“We say ‘go for it,’” said Teresa “Chester” DeAngelis, the scrum-side captain.
“I fractured my ribs and still played,” said Grace Scirbona, team treasurer.
“Our team is in better shape than in the past. Most of the injuries suffered are not from our inexperience,” Bradley said.
“I tackled a girl, and — instead of falling the way you’re supposed to — she sat on me,” Scirbona said. “We were playing Clarkson. We clobbered them, but then they accidentally clobbered us.”
“My first game, I went to the hospital with my knee. The second game, I broke my nose,” Hebert said. She shrugged. “All part of the game.”
“And they’ve all come back,” Bradley said. “But not until being cleared to play.”
“JB (Bradley) is very careful,” DeAngelis said. “He’s not yelling at us to ‘get back out there.’ He doesn’t work like that.”
With record of six wins and one loss in regional play, the team is at its best right now, Bradley said. He should know. He coached the women’s team when he was playing for the men’s team as an undergrad in 1985.
“We built up to this. We finally made it to the playoffs two years ago. Last year, we made it to the finals. And this year, we won,” he said.
“I think we have more commitment, more dedication,” DeAngelis said.
“We’re seeing more players showing up for practice each week,” Bradley said.
“We are taking it more seriously,” Hebert said. Now a graduate student, Hebert’s been on the team since the second semester of her sophomore year. “Team members came to my building recruiting. It sounded interesting. I’ve played softball my entire life, and I knew I wanted to be involved in something here.”
“My RA played,” Scirbona said. “I was telling her I played sports all my life and was looking for something. She said just come to practice.”
“There are no cuts. We don’t turn anyone away,” Bradley said. “This team won the championship in our division, and, for many, it’s the first exposure they’ve had to the game.”
The team plays Saturdays and an occasional Sunday on the field behind Sibley Hall during the September-to-October season. In the winter, it practices in the Field House.
“Sometimes at 11 on Sunday night,” Farrone said. “Talk about insanity.”
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