Radcliffe rugby had a score to settle this weekend after being left out of the national tournament, and when the dust settled, the scoreboard at the Beast of the East 2010 Tournament spoke loud and clear.
No. 7 Radcliffe steamrolled its opponents in the two-day tournament over the weekend, winning four-straight matches without yielding a single point en route to a convincing victory in Portsmouth, R.I.
With the Beast of the East starting on the same weekend as nationals, every Radcliffe player had the same thing on her mind.
“People had a bitter taste in their mouths after the game in the fall where we were up by 10 points, and if we had won, we would be [at] nationals,” junior Madeleine Ballard said. “[This tournament] was particularly poignant for the team, thinking, ‘Guess where we could have been this weekend?’ So the theme for the weekend was, ‘We are the best team in the country, so let’s go show people.”
Radcliffe certainly didn’t waste much time, overwhelming Stony Brook, 43-0 in the opening contest. After a close 5-0 victory over George Washington to finish Saturday’s competition, it was smooth sailing for the Radcliffe team, which posted 26- and 28-point wins over Bryant and Marist yesterday to take home the title.
“That was the biggest game of the [spring] season for us this past weekend,” said Ballard, referencing Radcliffe’s domination of the largest collegiate rugby tournament in the country.
And as the team closes out the year with its No. 7 ranking likely to rise, Radcliffe feels primed to return to national championship form. Although the squad has not hoisted the trophy since 1998, Radcliffe coach Bryan Hamlin, a New Zealand native, has the team moving in the right direction after two years at the helm, according to Ballard.
“[Hamlin]...brought new ideas and new strategies to the game that not a lot of American teams had been exercising,” she said. “That really turned it around. Anytime a team is struggling and you get new ideas, it changes the dynamic.”
Radcliffe Rugby will have to wait until the fall to get its next shot at a national title, but until then, the squad has its sights set on a few enemies.
“One goal is to take it to Brown—the No. 1 team in Division I—a perennial foe of ours,” Ballard said. “When we were bad [in previous years], they gave us quite a few beatdowns.”
If the team’s effort at Beast of the East is any indication, Radcliffe may soon be ready to return the favor.