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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Rugby looks to get back to championship glory in ‘23

Peyton McKenzie
Quinnipiac rugby’s season got off on the wrong foot, losing to Harvard 55-14.

 Last season, a dreadful 45-10 NIRA semifinal loss to the Dartmouth Big Green left a bad taste in the mouth of the Quinnipiac rugby program.

As the calendar turns back to the fall, the Bobcats hope to get back to its winning ways by playing their own style.

“I think each team is different,” graduate student forward Gracie Cartwright said. “They were just a different type of group and that’s perfect. For us, it’s not going to work.”

Those three national title winning teams have laid the blueprint for this current squad, which bolsters Cartwright, senior forward Kat Storey and senior prop Hannah Pfersch.

There is a lot to be excited about for the rugby team. Nine incoming freshmen give this program a jolt of youthful energy. Junior utility back Fódhla Ní Bhraonáin is deadly accurate on kicking conversions, going 2/2 against Harvard to open the year. 15 members of last year’s squad were named to the NIRA All-Academic team.

The team’s social media presence on both Instagram and TikTok makes it feel more down-to-earth, something the players love to participate in.

“We started doing it in the preseason, it was actually kinda fun,” Cartwright said. “Every now and then, we have some little bit of fun time, just getting to know each other, especially our new freshman class.”

The team’s new style of play, which features more of a 1-3-3-1 style of offense, opens the field up for some of the wings and plays on the outside more. Players like Cartwright, Storey and junior flanker Riva van der Valk all are able to utilize this offense better. It just takes time to adjust.

“It feels good when you’re on,” head coach Becky Carlson said. “We’re running a completely different game plan that we’ve never run before … they’re getting comfortable with it.”

However, the season didn’t get off on the right foot for the Bobcats, as the visiting Crimson marched in from Massachusetts to the tune of a 55-14 drubbing.

Despite the hopeful outlook, the Bobcats were handed a blow in their preseason scrimmage last week. Junior forward Lily Cartwright (Gracie’s younger sister) broke her left leg, ending her season.

“It’s been tough for us,” Carlson said. “It’s part of the game.”

But the elder Cartwright has a different approach to her sister’s injury.

“It definitely helps motivate us that we know she has our back no matter what,” Gracie Cartwright said. “It took us aback a little.”

In addition to Carlson on the sideline, the Bobcats added a former all-american to the coaching staff this offseason. Emily Roskopf, who spent four years with Quinnipiac, was brought along in July to help this current Bobcats squad, including taking over that improved social media presence.

“Her experience as a student-athlete in both 7’s and 15’s – along with her time spent as a NCAA head coach – has put Emily on the map,” Carlson wrote in a July 10 press release. “I’m thrilled to have her help lead our student-athletes moving forward.”

With Carlson’s experienced tenure, the player-to-coach pipeline of Roskopf and the veteran depth of the current roster, the Bobcats have the ability to return to the NIRA postseason.

Quinnipiac will search for its first win of the season as the Bobcats welcome in LIU on Saturday. A two-game road trip to Navy (Sept. 16) and Dartmouth (Sept. 23) follow — a stretch of the schedule that is expected to impact the rest of the season.

“We know what our strategies are, what our strengths are, what are weaknesses are,” Gracie Cartwight said. “Together as a group we have a lot of skills … We’ve just got to put them together.”

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About the Contributors
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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