Kayla Barrett

Keene State rugby celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend, and members are reminiscing about their time on the team.

To honor their golden anniversary, KSC men’s and women’s rugby teams competed on Saturday, Oct. 1. Both
games ended in victory for the Owls, with the women sweeping Middlebury College 63-0 and the men defeating New England College 82-7.

Women’s rugby vice president Elizabeth Winsor said that operations are feeling more normal since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, and rugby is gaining traction with the college population.

“When I first joined the team in fall of 2020, COVID-19 was at an all-time high,” Windsor said. “Now, it is the most ‘normal’ season I have experienced, which is so exciting. Recruitment and retention have also been an issue
these past two years, and our roster is the biggest it’s been in years, which is rewarding.”

Winsor said that rugby has been one of the most inclusive sports she has ever taken part in. “Rugby has benefited my life in a number of ways, I hope we continue to bring in new people so they can experience the same positivity I did when I joined,” she said.

Men’s rugby president Owen Pica said that continuing the legacy of the team is important to him.

“As club president, I hope to see the team continue working and winning,” Pica said. “[The] best thing about being part of the rugby club is that it will throw you in a community of some great, hardworking misfits that become your lifelong family, that will be there for you for anything you need.” Pica said the team is keeping its traditions going, “especially for our 50th anniversary this year.”

Men’s rugby coach Ely Thayer said that being part of the rugby club is special. “As the head coach, all I can hope for is to give these players a place to work hard, be respected, have fun and compete for what they want. I am confident that if I can provide that base, the players will take it from there and thrive on their own for years to come,” he said.

“For a sport that doesn’t often have an abundance of history at the college level in the U.S., it is really special that Keene State has supported 50 years of rugby at the school,” Thayer said.

“The most that I can hope for is to continue that legacy by continuing to give my time to the sport and the club that I am passionate about. And, if I’m lucky, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary in another 50 years.” The Equinox reached out to women’s rugby coach Karen Johannesen. She did not respond to a request to comment.

Piper Pavelich can be contacted
at ppavelich@kscequinox.com

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