Girls Leagues Find a Way Across The USA
Girls Leagues Find a Way Across The USA
Girls HS rugby around the USA is in a deep state of flux as COVID and competitive changes have had their effect.
There's no doubt that numbers are generally down in Girls High School rugby even as opportunities in collegiate rugby are increasing. It's possible that the collegiate opportunities will have coattails, and the return to normalcy post-COVID will boost numbers, but at present several leagues that were 15-a-side leagues are now playing 7s, and that is almost entirely because numbers are down.
However, the talent is still there and the enthusiasm of the players and coaches who are in competition is still there. Here's what's been happening as leagues get back on the field.
We are still two weeks away from league play, but Southern California has started with some warmup games. This past weekend Los Alamitos, Thunder, Empire, and Belmont Shore were in a 7s tournament together.
Los Al, led by junior Simone Bautista and senior Sia Meni, looked very strong, beating all three of the other teams.
A couple of weeks ago Los Alamitos had beaten the Orange County Sloths in overtime. OC could be a contender, too. Southern California continues with some warmup games this coming weekend before the season officially begins a week later.
Belmont’s Sariah Ibarra is a player to watch.
No change here as Iowa has always played 7s. This past Friday was a key event for three teams. Both Southeast Polk and Des Moines Roosevelt entered the tournament 2-0, and were slated to meet each other in their second game of the evening. Meanwhile, Cedar Falls was 1-1 but their loss had been to a very good Polk team, so maybe they weren't in the middle of the pack after all.
As it was, Southeast Polk emerged as undisputed leaders of the Iowa Youth Rugby girls 7s league with a 4-0 record after beating Adel 64-0 and DM Roosevelt 24-7, dropping Roosevelt to 3-1. SE Polk has plenty of talent but most notable is Sarah Breitsprecker, who poaches the ball effectively, has a fend that is very difficult to counter, and runs with power. Ava Lacquement is a tough customer who loves the Danny Barrett/Ilona Maher sidestep, while the almost perfectly-named Felicity Severs is very quick around the edge.
Cedar Falls, meanwhile, surged to 3-1 after a 2-0 weekend (wins over Waverly Shell Rock and Dowling). Oddly, Cedar Falls and DM Roosevelt are not slated to meet.
Last fall's Idaho 7s league was quite unpredictable, especially at the end of the season.
Mountain View has started very well with wins over Meridian, Eagle HS, and Rocky Mountain. Eagle's loss was competitive at 27-17, a game where Mountain View pulled away late. They also beat Rocky Mountain last month and Meridian this past weekend.
There are four more weeks to go still.
Aspetuck girls got their first taste of tackle rugby and did fairly well, but they were playing against the Charlotte Tigress, who are really, really good. The Tigress won their A-side games and continue to roll.
One of the most active states right now is Ohio and we've seen Highland, Warrior, Brunswick, Hudson, and Mentor all record impressive victories. Mentor, however, got stung by Highland this past weekend and Highland, after getting his hard by the Tigress (see above) in a preseason meeting, have gone 3-0.
But there's also St. Joseph Academy. One of the top teams in the nation just about every year, St. Joe's has started 2-0 and takes on defending 2019 state champs Walnut Hills this coming weekend. Walnut Hills hasn't been as consistent of late but it's still a big game.
There is still plenty of rugby to play but so far St. Joe's has seen sophomore prop Sophie Roebuck and junior flanker Maggie Sweeney lead the forward effort, while junior fullback Molly Zupancic, sophomore scrumhalf Mary McEwen, and freshman center Megan Chura have shone in the backs.
The season started with Downingtown looking very good in their opening win over over Conestoga.
In Utah the Majestics won twice to move to 4-0 and have given up just three tries in four games, beating United, Mountain Ridge, Wasatch, and Brighton-Wasatch. They take on United again this weekend.
The Colorado Interscholastic Rugby Association league has started its inaugural season. Schools within the league have a rule limiting the number of opponents you can play in a weekend, so teams are meeting up for a series of 7s games each weekend. So it was that East HS played favorites Summit and actually pulled off a victory, along with two losses. Summit is expected to be the class of the league, but East toppling them just once was worth noting.
East went on to win handily over a young and developing Palmer side this past weekend.