The Play Rugby USA Girls Academy team travelled up to Utica last weekend to compete in the NY State Championships in their first ever season playing 15’s! We are very proud of them and their massive accomplishment to win the State Championship.
The trip began at Randall’s Island at 7pm on Friday night, as half of the squad were competing in the PSAL 7’s Championship. After the tourney, a squad of 20 U19 players traveled four hours to their hotel to compete in a semi-final versus Hamburg the next day.
In the morning (after arriving at the hotel at 2AM), the team had a mental skills session and kicked off in the afternoon. Hamburg kicked off to start the match and the girls immediately showcased some great presentation and rucking skills, allowing for clean quick ball to the backs. Within a minute, the backs found space on the wing and Lekia scored on a 60 meter finish from the Fullback position.
The girls continued playing well and moving the ball into space. The forwards controlled the set piece and the backs put up the points, with the result being a 35-0 halftime score.
During the second half, the game was held up by an injury (to our knowledge the girl is ok). This stoppage let out some of the girls’ momentum, and they let up two tries in quick succession when play resumed. This was a major test for them, as it represented the most points they had allowed to date. After a quick huddle from the team they then SWITCHED ON and continued to GO FORWARD and finished the game of with a convincing victory 56-10.
Sunday morning, the players woke up tired (many of them had played on Friday as well) but ready to face defending champions Kingston. They went through a team talk and walkthrough before heading to the field for a 12pm kickoff. Foreshadowing a trend for the game, the team’s normal #8 had to switch to Flyhalf due to an injury on Saturday.
The Kingston team played physical rugby and scored within 2 minutes of the match opening. After that, the game seesawed back and forth and really came down to which team wanted it more. Over the course of the match, more injuries occurred and players had to continually step in to unfamiliar positions.
The final blow seemed to be struck in the 76th minute when an Academy player was sent to the Sin Bin with the score tied 29-29. The team rebounded beautifully however and almost scored the game winner at the whistle if not for a try-saving tackle for Kingston. The girls made their coaches very proud in the extra time as they controlled play despite being down a player, scoring 3 tries in the 10 minute period.
In the end, the Academy girls won 48-29. They showed great sportsmanship in consoling Kingston players and showed great respect to the opposition for what was a very hard fought match. This was great for us to see as it shows how far this group of girls have come and how far they still can go.
Congratulations to the players, coaches, and supporters on a tremendous season! Also a huge thank you to AIG for their contributions and support of the Academy program!