BY STEFAN AYANIAN
The Sacred Heart University women’s rugby team was chosen to host three regional training sessions for the Women’s Rugby 15s National Team on Feb. 17, March 10, and March 17.
According to USA Rugby, which is the governing body for rugby in the United States, the 15s National Team is comprised of some of the top rugby players in the country. The team is looking to represent the U.S. in the Women’s Rugby World Cup Tournament in New Zealand in 2021.
Sacred Heart said that they, “were in the presence of greatness,” and were able to see the differences between their practices and that of the National Team.
Freshman Sophie Hale saw this moment as an opportunity to try and imitate the way the National Team conducts their practices. The Pioneers saw players from the National Team make mistakes, but those mistakes did not hinder their practice.
“If we are able to incorporate what we see that the national team does in practice, we’ll get better and it will be a great season,” said Hale.
Some of the Pioneers have admired the National players and always tried to learn some of the skills they could use in future play.
“It’s incredible, I wouldn’t know how to describe it. It’s a dream come true because these are the people I look up to everyday and the people I want to be like,” said freshman Madison Gorrigan. “It’s just an opportunity to learn more and grow and it’s interesting to see that we can execute the same drills that they can.”
Assistant coach Jennifer Salomon, watched all of the National Team’s sessions and was impressed with the way they conducted their drills and their performance on the field.
She felt that her team could understand what it means to play professionally.
“I think one of the best things that they [Sacred Heart] can learn and realize is that even at the highest level, they can focus on the basic fundamentals,” said Salomon. “The National Team does the exact same drills that we do at practice and sometimes they make it a little bit more complex and it’s not as intimidating when they go back and start the drills.”
What Salomon appreciated the most was when the National Team’s coaches gave guidance on communicating with their players while practicing new drills.
“It’s interesting to learn from other coaches on how they explain different drills, concepts, or strategies,” said Salomon.
“As coaches, it gives us another insight on how we can also explain to our students because not every student is going to be receptive to what we say and learn differently.”
The Sacred Heart players and coaches feel that the future of the program is headed in the right direction of success and with the help and support they’ve gained during these practice sessions.