Rugby rookies drive for championship pitch

Greg Silvia

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Winning the USA Rugby College National Championships is a goal of the Chico State women’s rugby team’s strong rookie class.

After five seniors graduated last year, the Wildcats were able to get an influx of youthful talent, adding nine rookies to this year’s squad.

Natalie Oelsner, a three-year member of the team, credited the ’Cats early-season success to its rookie class.

With a lack of veterans on the team, the Wildcats need the rookies to make a big impact on the pitch this year.

“Usually the returners pull the team on the field, but this year it’s different,” Oelsner said. “A lot of our returners are out and our rookies have found a way to step up and contribute on the field.”

After the club was unable to field a team during the 2009-10 season, the Wildcats were able to get right back to winning in 2011 and hasn’t looked back.

The ’Cats were able to grab the sixth seed in the Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference after a 2-3 regular season last year, grabbing the final spot in the USA Rugby College National Championships.

Team captain Bryttany Felder-Brown said she hopes for the team to improve on last year’s successful season.

“We’re looking to make into the Sweet 16 tournament, giving ourselves a chance to play in the championship game,” Felder-Brown said.

The Wildcats started the season in the right direction, winning their first game against UC Davis 33-20.

The ’Cats will return home on Feb. 22 to play against UC Davis, completing the
season sweep.

Greg Silvia can be reached at [email protected] or @gsilvia on Twitter.

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