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Chico State’s No. 1 women’s rugby team eyes championship dreams in round of 16

Darby McFall looking to make a pass in a home match against UC Davis. Photo Courtesy: John Cort

The No. 1 Chico State women’s rugby club is heading to Stanford this weekend to take part in the Spring Championship Round of 16. The club takes on UC Santa Barbara at 3 p.m. Saturday.

“I think we had an idea we were going to have a pretty good season, but we definitely try to stay humble and hungry,” said fullback Darby McFall. “We definitely know it’s not going to be handed to us and we have to work for it, so it’s really our desire that has pushed us over the top.”

If they win on Saturday, the club will then take on the winner between Stanford and Lindenwood the following day. “I mean, anyone that we are going to be facing at this point is going to be a good team and we are definitely going to have to put up a fight,” McFall said. “Nothing from this point on is going to be easy whatsoever. I think we just have to take each opponent as it comes and not really focus on what they are doing but really focus on what we are doing as a team.”

The women’s club is undefeated with a record of 8-0 for the season and is No. 1 in the national women’s division I. Chico State won its league, the Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference, in dominating fashion.

“Every single one of us has improved so much, we have like a core set of that has been playing for four years and I feel like we all really connect well,” said forward Andrea Velazquez. “Everyone has very very good athletic abilities and that’s something that’s been different from other years past.”

Chico State ran through its league schedule by way of blowouts. Those wins include beating Stanford twice, 48-17 in their first matchup and 55-0 in their second.

The club also defeated UC Davis, Humboldt State and UC Berkeley. Chico State beat Humboldt State 74-7 in the first matchup and 72-5 in the second, UC Berkeley 65-7 and 50-7 and UC Davis 24-20 and 33-10.

“I think, this year in particular, we have a pretty solid back line. We have worked together for four years being out there together,” said McFall. “We can really read off of each other and see how each other play and so it’s really coming together finally after four years I think.”

UC Davis has been the toughest challenge for Chico State each year. The two wins against UC Davis has given Chico State national recognition.

The club has put in a lot of hard work this season, including practice and conditioning every day of the week. The team even dedicates themselves to two weeks of sobriety before the start of playoffs, according to McFall.

If Chico State remains undefeated, it would be their first national championship since 2001. “Our last national championship was 2001 so to be able to bring that home would be amazing,” said outside center Stefani Bergerhouse. If they make it, the club will head to Cal State Fullerton on May 4 to cap off the season.

The playoff journey begins at 3 p.m. Saturday against UC Santa Barbara at Stanford.

Noah Enns can be reached at [email protected] or @NoahEnns21 on Twitter.

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