Women’s Rugby: Norwich wins inaugural ACRA Division I 7s National Championship

Women’s Rugby: Norwich wins inaugural ACRA Division I 7s National Championship

Photo Credit: David "B" Bernheim

ALLENDALE, Mich. – The Norwich University women's rugby team completed the "perfect season" on Sunday by winning the American Collegiate Rugby Association (ACRA) Division I 7s National Championship with a 36-10 victory over Rutgers University.

Norwich won three national championships this season with a 27-0 record in 7s competition, claiming the inaugural ACRA title and winning its third straight USA Rugby title in November. The Cadets also went 13-0 in 15s competition, capped off by a 32-15 win over Army in the national championship in December. NU went a combined 40-0 this season between 7s and 15s matches.

Sophomore Emily Colesworthy (North Yarmouth, Maine) was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after leading Norwich to five victories by a combined score of 180-17 over the two-day tournament.

Colesworthy scored three tries in the national championship against Rutgers, while sophomore Ally Day (Gorham, Maine), senior Joya Clark (Scotia, N.Y.) and sophomore Valerie McGuire (Felts Mills, N.Y.) each touched down once in the try zone. Sophomore flyhalf Hannah Bell (Newberg, Ore.) went 3-for-6 on conversions.

"This goes down as one of the great years in the history of the program," said NU head coach Austin Hall. "We've taken it day to day and it's produced amazing results. We had a great group of seniors and we did everything we could to send them out on top."

Norwich beat Air Force in the semifinals 50-0. Clark led the Cadets with three tries. Fellow senior Rose Bernheim (Mountain Home AFB, Idaho) had two tries, while Colesworthy, Riley Blankenship (Lyndonville, Vt.) and Emily Oor (Uxbridge, Ontario) each had one try to round out the Norwich scorers. Bell went 5-for-8 on conversions as well.

Bell and Oor were named to the All-Tournament First team, while Vanessa Champagne (St. Nazarie, Quebec) was named to the Second Team.

"We're happy with how things went today, we played our game and put it all together," Hall said. "We had high energy and our flow was there again. We moved the ball well and we're happy to end on such a positive note."

Clark, Bernheim and Baylee Annis (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) conclude their careers with their sixth national championship in the last three seasons between 7s and 15s rugby. NU has four 7s titles and two 15s titles.

"The three of them and the seniors who played 15s in the fall will go down as one of the greatest classes we have ever had," Hall said. "They'll be sorely missed but they are going to do great things in their life both on and off the field. I couldn't imagine a better group."

Norwich concluded the inaugural season of ACRA taking both of the sanction's titles. ACRA was formed over the summer as a competitor to USA Rugby dedicated to the growth of women's collegiate rugby.

"ACRA has really helped with college women's rugby," Hall said. "Everything ACRA does is geared towards the growth of women's rugby. We're excited to be on the forefront of this movement answering the seasonality issue. There are so many new teams playing 7s rugby now with ACRA."