The Brandeis Women’s Rugby Team is a student-run club where the team trains college rugby players, many of whom graduate and move on to continue their rugby careers at the senior level. There is no experience required or expected to join rugby, and in fact, most new members of the team have never played or seen a rugby game. This year’s captains are Diana Epstein ’22 and Sarah Pechet ’21. 

There are three rugby coaches this year for the Judges. Head Coach Olivia Benzan-Daniel, nicknamed OBD, also plays for Beantown Rugby, Boston’s premier women’s rugby team. Sometimes team members go and watch the games to cheer for Benzan-Daniel. The rugby team has two assistant coaches: Cam Fear, who still plays rugby, and Ahuva Hanau ’16, called Huvs, pronounced like Hooves. Hanau is now a graduate student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management here at Brandeis.

The rugby team has approximately 30 players. Every member competes in games and tournaments, if they wish. How much a player plays in a game or tournament is up to the comfort levels of the players and the coaches. During the fall season, the team competes in the New England Wide Collegiate Rugby Conference and plays 15s. 15s means that there are 15 players on the field for each team. Officially there are two 40-minute halves, however, since the Brandeis team is in a developmental league, they sometimes only play three 20-minute thirds. This fall, the team participated in six games, and of those six games, Brandeis hosted two. The games Brandeis hosted were Oct. 12 and Oct. 19. Both games were played on Brandeis’ turf field, and the Judges were victorious. 

In the spring season, the team will play in the New England Collegiate 7s Circuit and participate in three or four tournaments. In this league the team plays 7s, which means there are seven players on the field. This game quick as it is two seven-minute halves and a lot of fast-moving fun!

Practices for the rugby team are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m. and Fridays from 5:30-7 p.m.  Practice is on the club sport’s field, located near the track and the Commuter Rail train station. However, the team occasionally will practice on the turf field and, during the winter and early spring, inside the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center until the weather improves.

Though the members are encouraged to come to all practices, it is understood that academics come first. The time commitment of team members is individual and based on the member. However, in order to make sure that all members know the skills necessary to compete — especially how to tackle  — players are encouraged to attend two practices weekly. Since many players have intense academic schedules, some can only come for an hour or even half an hour, but the team is happy to have players for whatever time commitment they can spare. The team bonds during practices, team dinners at Sherman and socials that can include games, movies, dancing and face mask evenings. Team bonding also occurs during the van rides to games. 

The rugby team is very proud to tell everyone that their head coach Benzan-Daniel just earned her level-300 certification in coaching rugby. She was flown out to England to complete her certification, and team is very impressed by her. In the past, the team has had players get placed on the league All-Star list. As a team, Brandeis rugby placed third in the regional competition and won a plate. This was a proud moment for Brandeis club sports.

The sport of rugby is very unique. There are many stereotypes about the sport, but here at Brandeis, the members are trying to create an inclusive environment that empowers women through sports and body positivity. All players need are cleats, but the team can even help with those and socks if needed. The team provides everything else.