Friday, November 14, 2014

Buckeyes Battle on in Big 10 Championships

All over the state of Ohio rugby teams are wrapping up their seasons, finding their warm layers and shuttering their doors in preparation for the cold months to come. In the heart of the Buckeye State the Ohio State University Women's Rugby team is preparing for one more big game. This Saturday, November 15, they play Lindenwood in a battle for Big 10 supremacy.

The lead-up to this point for the Buckeyes has been a strong but imperfect season. Ohio State went 6-2 in league play, losing only to Penn State and Indiana University.

"Playing at Penn State with not our full squad really hurt us," said Philip Payne, head coach of the OSU Women's Rugby team. "Our early game mistakes had us down by 24 rather quickly. Then we settled in as best we could."

Regardless of their record, the Buckeyes are in the playoffs; and in order to be successful in their postseason campaign preparation is key. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they have been putting in work towards this end even before the season started so the fate of the weekend doesn't lie squarely on the practice sessions that went into this final lead-up week.

"Having a quality Varsity Canadian team come down to us for two games really prepared us for the season, and to nearly beat them twice was a huge boost to our confidence. The Ohio State University Women's Rugby Football Club has always found a way to win gritty games on the field, but this year there has been a conscious team effort to become better athletes and more skilled rugby players. So many team members put in extra hours everyday of the week so that we can be successful on game days. The cultural shift is noticeable," Payne said, looking back at the season. "We have never played Lindenwood so I don’t know much about them. Our goal is to concentrate on what we do - refine and polish the edges and then we do our best to execute. Playing someone like Lindenwood makes us approach the game with fresh eyes - see what they do right away and adapt."

While preparation has been key, it has been the players that have made all the success this year possible. According to Payne, Captain Lindsay White has played a vital role in helping to mold the Buckeyes by leading from the front foot. White hasn't been the only player to contribute to the team's successful season. The Buckeyes' saw a large number of members graduate last year, leaving some skepticism about how solid they would be. Well, the Ohio State pack stepped up to fill those shoes and put together a solid season. Putting together a season that leads to a championship run is not just a 15-player job. It has taken contributions from every member of the club - starting or not - to achieve the success that they've had.

"We have dangerous ball carriers everywhere to help fulfill our mission - unselfish team rugby," Payne said. "We have a full second side with many quality players that are developing. From this developmental side we have really had the use of a quality bench."
Ohio State Women's Rugby Football Club takes on York University
in a preseason match to prepare for the 2014 season.

Saturday, the Sweet Sixteen of the Big 10 Championship begins. The Buckeyes kick off their seventh trip to the postseason in ten years, and it all comes down to the players and what they can bring to the field. Rather than getting caught up on Saturday's match against Lindenwood, Payne is making sure that they focus on the entire weekend's competition.

"I know from camp this team was special," Payne said. "They just needed to see it for themselves. I know they are excited to create their own story this weekend."

Those who cannot attend the Buckeyes' games this weekend they will be live Tweeting each match over the weekend. Fans can follow the action at @osuwrfc.

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