Girls’ Varsity Rugby tackles season head-on


Matthew Brand, Staff Writer

Despite playing short one lion, the Girls Varsity Rugby (GVR) trounced Harvey in two games on Four Acres this Tuesday. The first match was a 25-15 win, and the second was a 30-5 blowout. 

GVR had seven players on their roster, so they played “sevens rugby” the whole season. This means that seven players are on the field for each team, but they typically have substitutes. This was a challenge because all GVR players had to spend the entirety of both halves on the field, for two consecutive games. The team also played Tuesday’s match six vs. seven, because one lion was injured. 

Rugby is a physically demanding sport, co-captain JoJo Mignone (11) said. “You’re running consistently and playing a very physically challenging game,” she said. As a result, fitness has been a focal point for GVR in practices this season. “A lot of the practices and warmups integrate conditioning, but in fun and productive ways,” she said.

Isa Melián (11), who joined the team last year, felt that the supportive nature of the team helped her grow accustomed to the game, she said. 

For three players, this season was their first time playing rugby. Naturally, Mignone and her co-captain Clementine Bondor (12) took on leadership roles. When Bondor first started playing rugby competitively with contact, she felt intimidated by the sport. Now as an upperclassman, Bondor looks out for new players. “I wanted to be the person to whom people could go when they felt intimidated,” she said.

GVR entered Tuesday’s match with more experience and determination than previous games. Team members practiced their possession game, working harder to gain the ball on defense and turn it into offense, Coach Samira Robles said. The practices perfectly translated into the plays executed in matches, as they triumphed over Harvey. 

A standout moment from the match was seeing the new players score on their tries and plays, Bondor said. “It was so rewarding and fun to watch, seeing everyone cheering for them,” she said. 

Melián also has a sense of pride seeing the new players succeed, she said. “I was in their shoes last year, so I’m proud of how far they’ve come.”

Evie Steinman (9) was one of the new players on the team this season. The supportive nature of the team led her to have fun with the sport, she said. “What makes a great team is the people, and everyone was super encouraging,” she said.

Mignone has high hopes for the rugby program’s future, she said. She and her sister, Catherine Mignone ‘22, started the team in the spring of 2019. Although it was initially difficult to rally up players and teachers to contribute to the program, the team is projected to grow to at least 20 players next season, with a group of talented middle schoolers on the rise.

The team has formed a strong bond over the course of the season. From mentorship, to persistence, the players are passionate and dedicated, even giving up their lunch to assistant-coach the Middle Division (MD) team. “They’re just excited to play,” Robles said.