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  • Victoria Whydell

2018 Fifteens Season Preview

UMWRFC current and alumnae players after the 2018 Alumnae Match: the debut of the squad's new kit, sponsored by our alumnae!

The sweltering summer weather may still be lingering, but UMWRFC's 2018 Fall XVs season is officially underway!

The Wolverines return to Ann Arbor after another successful Spring/Summer season, which saw 14 intrepid travellers drive all the way down to Charleston, South Carolina, to represent the Midwest at WenchFest 7s. UMWRFC battled against the top women's clubs in the Southeast, but were most excited to play against Clemson on their own turf after the Tigers visited Ann Arbor last October!

Later on in the summer, current players and alumnae alike flocked to San Fransisco to witness the Rugby World Cup Sevens— three days of world-class rugby and an electric atmosphere at AT&T Park— where New Zealand dominated the tournament, winning both the women's and men's championships.

Closer to home, the returning squad began practicing for the new season at the end of August, putting in hard work on the field to prepare for the upcoming season in the newly-realigned Big 10 league and off the field to recruit new club members.

Michigan began the regular season bright and early, leaving Ann Arbor at 5:00 a.m. to face off against Indiana University on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Bloomington. The UMWRFC squad featured a lot of young returning talent, as well as one brand new face— Hannah Hoover, a new recruit beginning her post-grad studies at Michigan after graduating from Tulane University earlier this year. Michigan battled for all 80 minutes but ultimately fell to the Redstorm, 0-24. Indiana vs. Michigan was played at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 9th, at Evan Williams Field in Bloomington, Indiana. Catch up on this match and other Big 10 opening weekend action here.

Taking a break from league play, UMWRFC welcomed back some very special guests for Alumnae Weekend from the 14th-16th of September. After a fun few days of catching up, the current team— featuring a host of new players and decked out in its brand new blue home jerseys— took on a talented Alumnae squad under the blazing sunshine for a great contest full of thrills, spills, and good sports on both sides!

The 2018 Alumnae Game was played at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 16th, at Mitchell Field. The final score was UMWRFC 5-53 Alumnae, with UMWRFC points from Annie Pellegrini ('21), and Alumnae scores from Ariana Castillo ('17), current UMWRFC Assistant Coach Christine Lisee ('12) (2), Francine Penikis ('17) and Sam Taylordean ('17) (2), and more.

The Wolverines head straight back into league play with a mighty challenge at hand— hosting the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State took a brave stand for women's collegiate rugby along with Brigham Young earlier this year, as both sides forfeited playing in the National Championship 3rd Place match due to unplayable field conditions— read more about this show of solidarity here. UMWRFC kicked off the 2017 season with a difficult contest in State College, so the team is hard at work to prepare for this next fixture and settling into the new season, with Head Coach Jamie Frech adding: "As the new head coach, the first few weeks are all about identifying the strengths of the team, and fine-tuning them. We have a good mix of talent this season, and a solid group of committed players that show up and work hard every practice to improve. I am looking forward to this weekend’s match up against Penn State, as a bar-raising opportunity to test our strategy."

Michigan vs. Penn State will kick off at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 22nd, at Mitchell Field, with a short B-side scrimmage to follow.

The action continues the following weekend, as UMWRFC once again makes the trek to South Bend, Indiana, to face familiar foes, Notre Dame. Though still fierce competitors on the field, the teams now share an interesting link: the new Co-Commissioners of the Big 10 league, Colleen Tigani and Shaina Warner, are Notre Dame and Michigan alumnae respectively!

Notre Dame vs. Michigan will kick off at 1pm on Sunday, September 30th, at Stinson Field.

UMWRFC's third league match of the year is certain to be one of the season's highlights, as it sees old rivals Michigan State return to play XVs in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2016! That match ended with a Michigan victory, 31-15, which the team is certainly hoping to repeat this season. This will also be the first chance for many new players to pull on the UMWRFC jersey, with a B-side fixture against a still to-be-determined opponent scheduled to follow the MSU match.

Michigan vs. Michigan State will kick off at 11am on Saturday, October 6th, at Mitchell Field; Michigan B will kick off at 2pm.

The midway point of the season and school semester coincide, with the University of Michigan's Fall Break falling on a league bye weekend. That just means there's more time for Michigan rugby, as a travelling squad will brave the frozen north of the Upper Peninsula to take on Michigan Tech. This trip will be a highlight for Forwards Captain, Emily Carlson, who hails from Ishpeming, Michigan - a seven hour drive from Ann Arbor!

Michigan will wrap up Big 10 league play this season with a third and final trip to Indiana to play against Purdue. Michigan last played away at Purdue in 2015, in a tight 21-26 loss, but the camaraderie established that day has long continued, and was best seen earlier this year at Michigan's Wolverine Sevens tournament; Purdue had lost some players due to injury throughout the day, and did not have a full squad to play against Michigan B, but rather than forfeit, both sides came together and agreed to a light-hearted match of "Rugby Fives" instead!

Purdue vs. Michigan will kick off at 1pm on Sunday, October 21st, at Purdue's Northwest Fields.

The following weekend, Michigan will welcome Kent State to Mitchell Field, after visiting their home turf for some exhibition matches earlier this year. The Kent State women are celebrating their 50th season, and currently play in the D-I Allegheny Rugby Union league. UMWRFC looks forward to celebrating its graduating seniors in their last home game with one last victory on Ann Arbor soil!

Michigan vs. Kent State will kick off at 1pm on Saturday, October 27th, at Mitchell Field.

UMWRFC's final scheduled match of the season will be an adventure, as the team will be travelling away to play 2016 MAC Champions, Bowling Green. The Falcons are playing in their 40th season, and kicked it off in impressive fashion with a 41-7 win over Western Michigan. Michigan will be hoping all the season's hard work pays off to end the Fall 2018 season on a high!

Bowling Green vs. Michigan will kick off at 12pm on Saturday, November 10th, at Bowling Green.

Keep up with UMWRFC throughout the season here on our website, or on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)!

#fifteensseason #seasonpreview #2018

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