It’s going to be another building year for STU women’s rugby.
Last year the team moved from the ACAA into the AUS, a league which includes much larger universities like UNB, UPEI, and Dalhousie. This change came on the heels of back-to-back championships in the ACAA.
Last year was difficult, with the women ending their season without a single win.
“The first few years are going to be hard,” said team captain Kiersten Steeves, who is in her fourth year on the team. Steeves has tasted both victory and defeat, being part of the two championship teams in the ACAA, as well as last year’s winless team in the AUS.
The girls lost their season opener 88-0 against St. Francis Xavier, a team which already has an established program in the AUS. StFX had lost their previous game against Acadia, but until before they hadn’t lost since 2004.
“Last year we didn’t do well, so it’s hard to tell girls to come play for us when they want to win,” said Steeves.
This means that to get talented players they need to be a winning team, but to be a winning team they need to recruit talented players. This is a problem which is difficult to fix.
The struggles of recruiting don’t stop there. All of the universities in the AUS, except for STU, offer a variety of degree programs. Only being able to offer an Arts program makes it harder for STU to attract athletes.
STU will have to work with what it’s got. While the team has been working on defense in practices, there’s a lot that needs to happen off the field in order for the team to improve.
“Our goal is to come together as a team, and not worry about the scores, because we know we are not as strong as other schools,” Steeves said.
With over half the team being rookies, there’s a big learning curve. There are new names to learn and relationships to form if the team wants to be a cohesive unit on the field.
The team visited UPEI on Saturday. They lost 64-10, but they’re starting to improve. Only time will tell if it will be enough.
Though the amount of rookies means it will be difficult to get wins, for a team that’s trying to build a program, it’s perfect.
“When they players are in their fourth year, that’s when this team is going to be more competitive,” said Steeves, looking to the future.
“They need to learn as much as they can know so when they are older, the team can be as strong as possible.”
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