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Eastern rugby clubs rebound from pandemic with strong 2022 campaigns

Published on November 16, 2022

Eastern rugby clubs rebound from pandemic with strong 2022 campaigns

Eastern's women's rugby club during its fall 2022 season

Eastern's men's rugby club during its fall 2022 season

Eastern's women's rugby team celebrating its championship win

Eastern's men's rugby team celebrates on the field

The men’s and women’s rugby clubs at Eastern Connecticut State University both have young rosters with many first-year players. This lack of experience has not hurt the teams, however, as both made playoff runs in their respective leagues this season.

In fact, the women’s team became the New England Collegiate Rugby Conference (NEWCRC) Tier 2 champions, defeating Tufts University on Nov. 5. Team president Melody Ochoa was named MVP.

The women’s team has been successful in the years surrounding the pandemic, making it to the NEWCRC championship game three of the past four years. The year they did not make it, the season was canceled due to the pandemic. New faces have contributed to the team’s ongoing success this season.

“Lots of new players stepped up to the plate and played extremely well considering these are some of their first years playing rugby,” said Kallie Candelaria of the women’s team. “We are excited for the future of this team because there is so much talent from each player.”

The women’s team is grateful for the support it received this season. “We would like to thank student activities, the athletics department, the Campus Activity Board and all our supporters for coming out to our games and helping us get to this point,” said Candelaria.

Meanwhile, the men’s season concluded with a close loss to Nichols College in the first round of the New England Rugby Football Union playoffs on Nov. 5. The men wrapped up the regular season with a 4-2 record, clinching a playoff spot by starting the season 4-0. The team is traditionally successful, but the last few years have not been easy.

“This is the first time since 2019 that our team has returned to its traditional winning ways,” said Captain Victor DelVecchio. The team’s spring seasons in 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For us seniors, who were part of the team during those low times, this was our last ride, and we wanted to end on a good note,” said DelVecchio. “We have rebuilt this program from the ground up over the course of three years. It was not pretty and took a lot of work and tough times.”

Written by Noel Teter