Women's Rugby Team Resurrected, Takes On NMSU

SOCORRO, N.M. September 28, 2010 -- The education of the New Mexico Tech women's rugby team continued Saturday as the Pygmy Queens traveled to Las Cruces for their second straight weekend of action against the more experienced New Mexico State University Lady Chiles. The downstate team graciously loaned a few players to fill out the Tech side before administering a class in the school of hard knocks.

The Pygmy Queens joined forces with the Los Alamos High School team to take on the NMSU Lady Chiles on Saturday. Sept. 18.

Tech's forwards – led by Andrea Buckel, Christina Nararez, and Michaela Rempkowski –  did very well in set scrums, repeatedly driving the Lady Chiles off the ball. However, once the ball came into open play the home team showed the advantage of experience. Despite the best efforts of scrum half Erika Summers and center Lynnae Logan, the first of two informal matches resulted in a Lady Chiles advantage of 48 points to NMT's 0.

Following a brief respite, Andi Buckel, Michaela Rempkowski, and Renae Hickman went over to the NMSU side in exchange for an equal number of Lady Chiles, and a shorter match ensued. New Mexico State also got the better of this encounter, winning 22-0, but not before Danielle Shipley provided some excitement for the Queens. Fielding the ball from a kickoff, Shipley sprinted away from the defense and had a long run for glory before being tackled just short of the try line. Unfortunately her teammates were unable to convert great field position into points.

Plans are underway for Tech's fledgling Queens to combine forces with NMSU for the 30th annual Arizona Tens tournament October 9-10 in Flagstaff, where the athletic potential of the Socorro players combined with NMSU experience could generate dynamic results. At the minimum New Mexico Tech's female ruggers will advance their rugby abilities via the game's - and life's - best teacher: experience.

The Pygmy Queens joined with the Los Alamos High School women’s rugby team the previous weekend. The combined team hosted the Lady Chiles.

Attempts to field a women's rugby team at New Mexico Tech have met with varied success over the years. The Queens were able to fulfill a schedule of fifteen-a-side matches in the late 1990s, and flirted with that magic number briefly in the early 2000s. The last team to tee it up before Saturday's rebirth was the 2002 edition.

Despite having just four weeks worth of practice, the Queens players showed a ferocious determination to compete. Having the Los Alamos team present allowed Tech's players to slot in at various positions, affording the chance to learn the game from different perspectives. NMSU stole the day with a 22-5 win but as the game progressed the Tech rookies responded with improvement in tackling, passing, and contesting for the ball. The Queens/Hilltopper unit even managed to drive NMSU off the ball in the set scrums on several occasions.

The Pygmy Queens are coached by geology graduate student Graham Payne and NMT undergrad Marshal Spradley, who are both regulars with the NMT men's team. Tech's female ruggers will challenge NMSU again when they travel to Las Cruces for a reduced-roster match, possibly tens, on Saturday, September 25.