This weekend at the Frostbite sevens tournament, the Harvard women’s rugby team came out hot, totaling a combined 4-2 record between the two Crimson squads that entered the field. Despite not having any previous experience with the sevens style of play this year, the hosts defeated teams from MIT and Beantown RFC beneath the bubble of Harvard Stadium.
“Overall our goal was to have the team have a very positive sevens experience since most of the players on the team have never played sevens rugby before,” Harvard coach Sue Parker said. “I think that on the day, it was a huge success.”
Two games, two blowouts, one loss and one victory. That’s how the Crimson squad began Saturday’s slate of action.
But at the beginning of Harvard’s third contest, a matchup against Beantown RFC, the squad encountered their first tight game. Two scoreless minutes had passed to open the 14-minute game, and neither team had gained a clear upper hand.
It was then that Crimson sophomore Taciana Pereira struck. After breaking out of a scrum at Beantown’s own 40, the Brazilian national team member sprinted ahead of all players to score a try and give her Harvard side a 5-0 lead.
After Pereira’s score, the floodgates opened. The next Harvard tally, which came after a long run by freshman Maya Learned, put the hosts up 10-0. Despite conceding a Beantown score, the Crimson would never relinquish the lead and walked off the field with a 15-5 victory.
“We had three brand new rookies who started on Monday,” Learned said. “[They all] scored their first tries. I think our work rate was just incredibly high, which is a necessity for sevens.”
Earlier in the day, the Crimson team experienced less drama in racking up a win over MIT. Against the Engineers, Harvard scored early and often en route to a 25-5 win in their first match of the day.
The formula would not hold true against the Black team however, as the Crimson squad would fall to their Black counterparts by a score of 30-5.
The Black squad matched their Harvard counterparts, finishing the day at 2-1, while beating their Crimson opponents.
In the first match of competition, the Black team lost 15-5 to Beantown RFC. In their next game, a scrimmage against the other Harvard team, the Black side picked up their first win of the day, defeating the Crimson squad by a score of 30-5.
“We had some ups and downs throughout the day because we were not really familiar with the sevens structure,” junior Ann-Marie Barrett said. “In the end, I think we’re really proud of the team and the hard effort we put in.”
The day ended on a high moment, as the Black squad dispatched MIT handily with a 30-5 loss.
Coming at the beginning of the spring season, the Frostbite Sevens represented Harvard’s first official competition since beating Princeton last November in the third-place match of the Ivy League tournament. Since then, the team has held unofficial practices and added several team members.
In the next two months, the Crimson will take part in two other sevens tournaments, one of which will take place on the Harvard campus. This event, known as the Crimson Sevens tournament, will kick off at the end of March.
“We’re such a different team right now,” Parker said. “We have a lot of new player…. Sevens is a faster more wide open game that exposes our skill level when we don’t execute.”