Date Posted:09/10/2003,  3:45PM

2003 Women's Rugby Preview

The Bowdoin College Women's Rugby Team will play their first game as a varsity sport on Saturday, September 13. But this is hardly your run-of-the-mill rookie team. The women's rugby squad has been around for years, and under the direction of head coach Marybeth Mathews has risen to become one of the more prominent teams in the Northeast.

"After ten years as a well-respected club team, we're extraordinarily pleased to be entering the 'varsity' world," says Mathews. "It signifies the respect that the women on the teams preceding this one have earned over the years. Its fantastic that we?ve been able to create a safe environment for these women to play a brand-new contact sport."

The team did lose a significant amount of players to graduation in 2002, but will return a core of seniors that include Emily Angell (Portland, Ore.), Lynette Batt (Wilton, Maine), Liz Swedock (Darien, Conn.), Lauren Flinn (Boston, Mass.), Whitney Alexander (Portland, Ore.) and Rachel Jones (Brunswick, Maine).

"We'll be asking a lot of these players, in addition to others," comments Mathews. "They'll be asked not only for their rugby skills, but for leadership and promoting a team effort. We definitely expect to be competitive in Division II of the NERFU."

The Polar Bears, who finished 4-2-1 last season, will face stiff competition in the New England Rugby Football Union. Their first contest will be at the Beantown Tournament, followed by another away match at Colby on September 20. The first home match at Pickard Field will occur on Sept. 27 versus the University of New Hampshire.