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Women's Rugby Earns First Win of Season at Yale

By Stephen J. Gleason, Contributing Writer

The women’s rugby edition of “The Game” was a blowout from start to finish, as Harvard scored early and often to shut out home team Yale. Three Crimson rookies shined in their debuts and four seniors scored tries as Harvard cruised to a 54-0 victory over the Bulldogs (0-2, 0-2 Ivy) on Saturday afternoon in New Haven.

The win repeated last year’s shutout, an 84-0 trouncing of Yale, in Cambridge during the Crimson’s inaugural varsity season. Harvard (1-1, 1-1 Ivy) gained its first victory of the season after losing in the final minutes against Brown last Saturday.

Co-captain Brooke Kantor said the Crimson played “a little chaotically” in the first half but was still able to control the ball and improve as the game went on.

Harvard wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Isabel Delaura, a freshman from Boston making her collegiate debut, scored a try on the Crimson’s first possession. Delaura, who had never played rugby before coming to Harvard, was able to score after several strong passes from her teammates.

Kantor attributed Delaura’s scoring success, and Harvard’s overall ability to move the ball up the field, to the overall group dynamic of veterans and rookies.

“We saw some really beautiful teamwork on the field,” Kantor said. “I think that is definitely what ensured our victory today and allowed us to walk off the field feeling as though we had really accomplished something.”

Sophomore Ina Kodra, another rookie, provided the Crimson with a lift during the second half. She disrupted many of Yale’s scrums and energized the Crimson defense.

“[Kodra is] a powerhouse,” Kantor said. “I’m so happy that she joined the team this year as a sophomore,”

The third rookie, first-year Rachel Chapman, who started the game at lock and played the entire contest, gained back key territory on kick receiving for Harvard. Recent additions to the Crimson have only been allowed to practice with the team for a week.

While the trio of Chapman, Kodra, and Delaura played key roles in the victory for the Crimson, it was the leadership of Taz Ramirez and the other Crimson seniors that ultimately carried Harvard to such a convincing win. As the Crimson’s scrum-half, Ramirez served as the vocal leader and focal point of the team’s offense, delivering strong passes from the backs to set up her teammates for tries and allowing Harvard to quicken its pace on offense as the game progressed.

“Taz, especially in the second half of the game, was being so much more demanding of us, like telling us to go into the ruck,” Kantor said. “She was getting the ball out super quick and her passes were great.”

Harvard was able to score nine tries, three from senior Lenica Morales-Valenzuela and one apiece from senior co-captains Kaleigh Henry and Kantor, senior Aniebiet Abasi, junior co-captain Hope Schwartz, who is also an active Crimson sports editor, sophomore Taciana Pereira, and freshman Delaura. The Bulldogs, who offer rugby only as a club sport, were no match for the Crimson’s control of the ball and the pace of play for the entire game.

Despite the large margin of victory, Kantor sees some areas of improvement that she and her teammates want to work on before their clash with Ivy foe Cornell next Saturday at Cumnock Field.

“I think this week we really need to focus on salivating the point of contact, both when we’re going into tackles and when we’re going into rucks,” Kantor said. “This week if we work on it, I think that we will be able to do that not just in the second half of our game but for the entire eighty minutes.”

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