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Michigan, Eau Claire, St. Bonaventure Win NCR Women Championships

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Michigan, Eau Claire, St. Bonaventure Win NCR Women Championships

Michigan won again.

Michigan and Wisconsin Eau Claire both secured repeats championships in NCR women's playoffs, while St. Bonaventure won their first-ever small-college championship.

(Reporting by GRR and also NCR reports)

D1 Final

Saturday night was a rematch between Michigan and Notre Dame College, who met in last year's final. Determined to get payback NDC knew they needed to contain Michigan's speedy attack out wide. But the Wolverines aren't just quick, they move the ball well and they are strong enough to break tackles.

NDC was powerful in tight with sisters Alivia and Lucy Leatherman controlling the flow of play there and scrumhalf Rosa Treece urging them on. But if you are a constant scoring threat out wide, you don't need a majority of possession.

And that's how it came off, with Michigan winning 33-17.

Lucy Leatheman scored the opening try, but as time went on Michigan started to find space. Grace Codd and Katie Gale sped in and Michigan led 12-5 at halftime. Treece scored early in the second half and it remained a tight game until yellow cards to both sides made it a 14-on-14 game—Treece for NDC and No. 8 Maggie Bowers prop Rebecca Dooley for Michigan each getting a seat. That played into Michigan's hands and Ember Larson made it pay. Alivia Leatherman scored in answer, but the tries started to flow for Michigan. Codd, MVP of the final, scored her second. 

It was an excellent showing for a club team, and capped off what has been an astonishing two years for the Wolverines.


The DII teams played two games in two days and on the first day defending champs Eau Claire won convincingly 39-17 over Illinois. Vassar, for their part, held off Coast Guard 48-38—CGA was inspired in part by a Coast Guard helicopter doing a flyover before the game.

V‍assar came in having won the ACRA DII final the last two years and the USA Rugby DII championship in 2018. But Eau Claire were NCR winners in 2022 and were determined to get their second.

Vassar took the lead after three minutes through flyhalf Zoe Lynch, who snuck across the line from close-in. Eau Claire answered with a trio of tries in fairly quick succession. The first was a breakaway run from openside flanker Julia Bancroft. Fullback Cerys Ridd weaved her way through for the second, and wing Izzy Currie charged in for the second. Eau Claire now led 17-7.  

Vassar scrumhalf Sophia Bailey has been in good form all season and she darted over for the first of her two tries on the day. Bailey then set up flanker Asia Baker and with the conversion Vassar led 19-17.

The game remained on a knife edge. But yellow cards to Vassar made the Brewers shorthanded and two Currie tries put Eau Claire in the lead. The former was converted, putting Vassar up 19-17 going into halftime. 

Vassar flanker Mette McKinney was shown a yellow card in the second half but even so Bailey scampered over for her second. But penalties were Vassar's undoing and as they had to backpedal 10 meters on repeated occasions. Currie went over for Eau Claire to make it 24-22 (Vassar still leading) and, with Vassar seeing yellow once more, she did it again to make the score 27-24. Vassar responded once more with fullback Jude Robinson racing in to give her side the lead at 29-27. There was still time for Eau Claire and Megan Ludy provided the heroics to finish it off in a classic, 32-29.

T‍hese two teams were always considered very close, and that was proven true.

In the third-place match, Coast Guard defeated Illinois, 60-5.

Small College

St. Bonaventure beat defending champs 22-10 in the semfinals, while Wisconsin-Platteville beat SUNY Cortland 31-5 in their semi. In the final, St. Bonaventure held off Platteville in another close one, 22-17. Their ability to run hard and attack the line, breaking tackles, saw them through.