COLLEGE STATION, Texas – As the sun set on the 2011 USA Rugby Women's College Sevens Championships on Saturday evening one team found themselves recapping a children’s movie at halftime in the final.
“We talked about How to Train a Dragon," said Austin Hall, Head Coach of Norwich University, and the first ever Women’s College Sevens Champions. “We used that movie as a backdrop to our team and style this weekend,” continued Hall noting that his team needed to continue to work hard and hope for the best.
It must have worked. Norwich University dominated Boston College in the cup final of the Women’s College Sevens 34 - 5. Norwich came out of the gates with intensity that was unmatched all weekend.
“We knew we would win if we just had fun, worked hard, and kept our game simple,” said Captain Kate Hathaway. And that they did. Norwich University exploited BC in the simple side of the game, completing more passes, making more of their tackles, and using possession to get points on the board.
They were crisp in their execution and showed that they were the better conditioned team outrunning and outworking Boston College in the open field but especially at the breakdown. Norwich continuously turned over the ball by thoroughly counter-rucking Boston’s vulnerable support.
Rebekah Bernheim was named MVP of the final, and undoubtedly deserved it. Scoring tries all weekend, Bernheim touched down twice in the final, showing her pace and hard support lines through the 20 minute game, putting up six tries to Boston’s one.
Norwich quickly fell into a pattern and found themselves thinking about the post-match interviews. “I actually thought about this interview during the game,” said Hall. “We were playing our game, and I knew we would win if we just kept playing the way we have all weekend,” continued the head coach.
Norwich University Rugby is a varsity program with the support of their Athletic Department and unyielding commitment of the individual players.
“We owe a lot of support to our alumni and Athletic Department, and the girls are just excited about playing rugby, whether for a championship or just a friendly,” said Coach Hall.
As they are usually focused on fifteens rugby, Norwich used the traditional code to prepare for this inaugural tournament. “We never play sevens, we are focused more on fifteens, but we came to College Station to win. Whatever style we play, we are always focused on having fun and winning,” said Hathaway.
Although the weekend was filled with intense and exhausting sevens action, Norwich came out on top in the end though by managing their downtime properly according to Hall, explaining that in sevens it’s more about getting the body and mind conditioned for a whole day of periods of action and recovery.
“The girls were exhausted but knew that we had to turn it on for this match,” said the captain. “We just wanted it really bad, we wanted to win a National Championship,” added Hathaway.
Norwich is already looking to next year’s title. “We have fifteens this spring but we can’t wait to come back and defend our title in sevens rugby,” said the captain. Young programs will undoubtedly look to Norwich University as an example of stellar rugby. Be it their varsity sport status, intense simplicity on the field, or reliance on children’s cinema for inspiration, these girls know how to play rugby and are now the 2011 USA Rugby Women’s College Sevens National Champions.
There were a number of other hard workers through out the weekend and a few more champions in the Women's Sevens Championships. The University of California won the Plate Final defeating Oregon State 19-5 while the University of Texas beat Arizona State 26-5 in the Bowl Final.