WSU rugby club starts season off in winning fashion

Jonah Simental Evergreen Club Sports reporter

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The champions are at it again. This time the Women’s Rugby Club is in a new division, which is sure to increase the level of competition they face this year.

The club competed in its first tournament this season two weeks ago, travelling to Fuller’s Farm near Oregon City to play in Babbfest. The team won all three games against Washington and the nationally ranked Portland Lady Pigs.

Coached by 2011 WSU graduate Conor Bollinger-Smith, the club is reloading its previously stacked starting lineup with fresh recruits, including a freshman selected to train at a USA Eagles camp.

“To see improvement and have your structure laid out day by day, seeing the team get better and giving the players a chance to play rugby and keep playing at a high level will hopefully transition into Division I.” Bollinger-Smith said.

At the end of last season, the club took home the Division II National Title posting a 60-5 rout over Winona State, while recording at least 40-plus points against all other opponents in the playoffs. This year, the team will be making the jump to Division I and competing against teams like California and Stanford.

“We won (Division II) Nationals last year and I think the goal is to win (Division I) Nationals,” Bollinger-Smith said. “I mean it would be quite a long shot to see that happen this year, but I don’t see why it would be a long shot to see us win it in the next two to four years.”

Club President Noehly Tzintzun was a member of the 2010 National Championship team and 2013 National Championship teams. The fifth-year senior is ready to show the new club members what rugby is all about.

“What is there not to love about rugby? You get to hit people, you get to be kind of what we would call a ‘badass’ and I think whether you’re a back or forward, it’s knowing that if for some reason you can’t make a tackle, you know that your family is behind you to make that tackle,” Tzintzun said.

Growing up in the east African country of Tanzania, Anne Peterson spent a lot of her childhood outdoors in the safari and playing rugby. Peterson, now a junior, has helped WSU Women’s Rugby win a national title while also reserving a spot on the USA Women’s Eagles National Team.

“I strive to be the best I can be and develop personally, not only as a team,” Peterson said. “For me personally, I want to be the best rugby player that I can be so I can be an asset to the team. Whether it’s going to the gym regularly or eating right, I take that seriously and want to make sure that I’m giving everything I can to the sport.”

Peterson is one of three Cougars who have recently played for the USA Women’s Eagles – playing against other national teams like Canada, South Africa, France, and England.

“It’s fun to able to represent the country and play at such a high level,” Peterson said. “It’s a dream come true.”