GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

Back from Injury Lilly Durbin Makes Every Minute Count

irish rugby tours

Back from Injury Lilly Durbin Makes Every Minute Count

Llly Durbin finds some space in the NIRA final vs Army. Mark Washburn photo.

After a meteoric rise which saw her capped by the Eagles 7s team before she'd graduated high school, Lilly Durbin's rugby life was ripped away from her.

A star as a freshman in high school ...

And then an Olympic hopeful before she'd matriculated to Dartmouth

The explosive back from Fallbrook HS was a freshman sensation with Dartmouth, leading the team with 15 tries. Able to play almost anywhere in the backline, but most dangerous where she had space, Durbin looked set for it all to come together. But then injuries hit. She missed her sophomore season. She missed her junior season. She just wasn't healthy to play and actually worried that she'd never play again.

"It was unthinkably tough; I've dealt with some crazy things these past couple of years. I never thought I'd be able to play again so to even be in this situation is such a privilege and I'm just so thankful."

This situation, of course, is that after the COVID shutdown, Dartmouth was able to play, and win, and Durbin was again a star performer as Dartmouth ran through the NIRA season undefeated, beating West Point in the final. For Dartmouth she sometimes lineup at center, and sometimes wing, but found her voice as fullback, slotting into the line wherever she was needed to lead the team once again in tries, and once again with 15. She ended the season with four tries in the semifinal win over Brown, and a game-sealing scamper in the final against Army.

She had moments but what she remembers from that 28-13 victory are moments by her team—Idia Ihensekhien scoring on an interception to steal the momentum from Army, for example.

"This game - I thought our eightman, Idia, she had a hell of a game," said Durbin. "Us coming together after they'd scored on us and finding our composure again and then coming out and scoring again ... those are my favorite moments."

And maybe just being able to get on the field. One of the most dynamic players on a championship team, Durbin refuses to plan too far ahead now. Thinking that she might not play again, that the meteoric rise had melted away like the waxed wings of Icarus, hasn't dampened her positivity, but it has made her wary. 

"I learned that nothing in life is guaranteed and that you just have to be thankful for what you have, even the little things," Durbin told GRR. "In rugby terms, you never know if you're going to play again, so always make every minute count."