On Saturday afternoon, snow flurries may have delayed the start of the Crimson Sevens women’s rugby tournament, but the wintry weather couldn’t keep the host team from lighting up the scoreboard beneath the bubble of Harvard Stadium.
The Crimson split its squad into two teams for Saturday’s action, as did visitors Norwich and Boston University. It was joined by one-entrant teams from St. Michael’s College and American International College. After playing three pool-play matches each to start the afternoon, competition concluded with a slew of inter-pool contests.
At the end of the day, the Crimson squad concluded with a 3-1 record, while its Black counterpart finished play with a 1-3 overall mark.
For the Crimson side, emotions started to flow well before the starting whistle of the final contest of the day.
In a pre-match ceremony, Harvard’s graduating seniors were given loudspeaker recognition and bunches of roses, as fans around the sidelines greeted the moment with applause.
Once the championship contest against Norwich kicked off, however, the Crimson had to deal with emotions of a different sort.
Within minutes, Harvard had conceded a pair of tries to the Cadets, and by halftime, this deficit had grown into a full-scale blowout, with the Crimson entering the break down 26-0.
Rather than letting up, Norwich piled on 35 more points in the match, coming out of the inaugural Crimson Sevens event with a 66-7 victory and a tournament championship. The Cadets have also won the last four national championships in sevens rugby.
“We learned some new really interesting new moves on attack,” senior captain Kaleigh Henry said. “We can analyze the game film to see what they did to break down our defense, so we can really move forward from there.”
Down 31-0 in the second period, senior Cheta Emba provided the sole score for the Crimson. After collecting the ball, she streaked down the right sideline, leaving the Cadets in her wake to get Harvard on the board.
In order to reach the final match, the Crimson had to earn a first-place finish in its group. The deciding game proved to be the last one, as Harvard earned a 7-7 tie against AIC, the other squad vying for supremacy in the group. The Crimson advanced to the championship on a point-differential tiebreaker.
Before that, Harvard had come charging out of the gates, handing both BU (2) and Norwich (2) 41-0 losses.
“In order to be the best you have to play the best,” Henry said. “We really want to get out there and experience some really tough play.”
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