The Harvard rugby team may have been a freshly-minted varsity squad in the 2013-2014 season, but at its core was a slate of seniors who carried on the spirit of the former Radcliffe rugby club squad.
“The fact that we have nine graduating seniors, most of whom played for all four years, shows how significant this graduating class is [to the team], both in numbers and in what I hope we left,” co-captain Brandy Machado said.
Among those senior standouts was co-captain Xanni Brown, who spearheaded the Crimson’s offensive charge as the team’s leading scorer.
Brown anchored the Crimson’s core at fly-half, a taxing position that leads both the offensive and defensive efforts. In one notable display of dominance, the senior made her presence known in the Crimson’s October contest at Brown, scoring 37 points in a 57-7 rout, Harvard’s first victory against the Bears in over a decade.
However, the co-captain, who played on the USA Rugby national team following a standout freshman campaign, saw her senior season come to an end during the Crimson’s spring match against No. 1 Penn State. A broken foot and the ensuing surgery sidelined the senior for the final two games of Harvard’s campaign at the 2014 USA Rugby National Championships.
“The injury came at a pretty disappointing time, so I didn’t necessarily get to the big games this spring,” Brown said. “But I was very grateful that I got to be there to cheer folks on from the sidelines and stay involved in the final stretch.”
It was a tough blow for the senior and for the rest of the Crimson squad, which struggled to fill the hole in its lineup with the absence of its top scorer.
And while her force on the field will no doubt be missed, Brown along with her classmates have left a strong foundation that the young squad can build upon in future years.
“For me, having come into rugby when I did many years ago, when we were scraping it together, it was very exciting for me to finish my senior year with the program looking like it does right now,” Brown said.
—Staff writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CrimsonBRN.