Monday, August 18, 2014

Columbus Start-Up Finishes Near Top in First Sevens Season

Every rugby sevens fan in the Midwest is familiar with the men’s side powerhouse out of Columbus. This year, a women’s side was formed to complement their established men’s side. This side is W1823, and they traveled to every tournament with their two men’s side in the hopes that they would replicate their success.

Joel Bonnaud coached and formed the team. His roster was comprised of “young local athletes eager to compete against the experienced and successful likes of the Lions, Youngbloodz, etc.”

“I coached almost all the players while I was at OSU and we discussed creating and doing something at a higher level,” Bonnaud said. “So we gathered in January 2014, agreed on main points and went ahead with it.”

Liz Entwhistle, Director of the Stars Rugby program, is only one of the names on the roster that will stand out to devotees of the Ohio rugby scene.

“The W1823 Mission Statement is to provide an environment of excellence, based upon Core Cultural Values, in order to develop female rugby players - experienced and crossover alike - looking for high-level challenges,” Bonnaud said. “[This] is why, even before starting practices, all players determined what the key values for the club would be and all adhered to them.”

Once the values and culture were put in place, training began; and if Columbus sevens does nothing else they train hard. The women were given full access to the Tiger Academy fitness center, a pitch on which to practice and the mindset to match the men’s sides in their training regiment.

“As a result, all players truly blossomed, improving dramatically in all aspects - physical, technical, mental - and showing fantastic work ethic - very frequently pulling two-a-days,” he said. “But what also mattered was how they would improve compare to the other teams, and they did not disappoint at all. While it was clear during the very first tournament that the experienced squads were a big level up, the W1823 players closed the gap.”

Now that the summer sevens season is well and truly done, the focus of W1823 turns toward developing the talent they do have and any incoming ladies that are looking to play. According to Bonnaud, most of his girls play with either Ohio State University’s women’s rugby team or Scioto Valley’s women’s side so continual training is going to be tough, but Bonnaud plans to keep bringing his group together to improve.

“Having now, on target, high level tournaments such as New York Sevens and Las Vegas, the whole squad will keep working out together and go through weekly skills session,” Bonnaud said. Just like with the men’s sides, Bonnaud will have players running with some high-level talent during the time between now and the next sevens season. “Three squad members – Stephanie Bowers, Cyndi Campbell, Brie Rahrig – will have the chance to participate in the High Performance Camp for Women, directed by Jules McCoy, thus being coached by and playing with the best in the country.”

Be on the look out for W1823 and its players to be making moves and making an impact during the 15s season. Women and girls interested in playing are invited to contact Bonnaud and join the club.

“Our doors always are open to any female athlete interested in our mission statement,” he said. “Simply contact Coach Joel Bonnaud to be part of the journey.”

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