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NMSU women’s rugby underway

The New Mexico State University women’s rugby team started its season strong as the Aggies defeated the University of New Mexico Lobos 63-12 on Sept. 16. Both teams played with 15 players, including eight forwards and seven backs, on UNM’s Johnson Field.  

The captain of the NMSU women’s rugby team is senior Rebekah Lockhart, who has been a part of the club for four years. “UNM is definitely a rival that we’ve played a lot,” Lockhart said. “Their team dynamic has changed over the years, but for our first tournament against UNM, we all played really well. The team chemistry worked in our past tournament, and we had a lot of players stepping up.” 

The NMSU women’s rugby team huddles up during the season opener against the University of New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Photo courtesy of NMSU women’s rugby)

Following the team’s win, head coach Justin Karrenberg praised the players for their leadership skills. 

“The team played lights out against UNM,” Karrenberg said. “The great part is we have a lot of new players, and they really showed up and hit the ground running, which also really speaks to the leadership from the veteran players who have been showing the new players how it’s done.”  

Karrenberg said the main message he gave to the players after the game was about effort. “I don’t care if you make a mistake, I just care if you put in the effort to correct it,” Karrenberg said. “Every player was putting in the effort that day.” 

The rugby team is starting the fall season with high hopes after last year’s third-place finish at the national qualifying tournament for the Rocky Mountain Rugby conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  

According to NMSU player Virginia Phillips, the 2023 season looks promising for the Aggies as they try to develop a winning culture at NMSU.

“I’m excited,” Phillips said. “We’re literally facing teams that are at a high caliber playing field, and we’re going to try to kick butt. We have a good group of girls that’s very focused on academics, and it’s very empowering to be a part of such a great women’s team. I’m honestly really confident with this team.” 

Coach Karrenberg shared the same outlook. “Because of what we’ve been building over the past couple of years, I’m excited to see what we can do this fall season,” Karrenberg said. “Starting the season with a strong win over UNM has really set us up to play well against the remaining teams. 

The Aggies’ next game will be against Grand Canyon University on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 10 a.m. PDT. 

“We’re going in next week against a very high-caliber team that plays quite well,” Karrenberg said. “Our next game, we play a good team at GCU who is going to let us test everything we’ve been working on. It’ll be a fun challenge, but I think we have the skills to be competitive.” 

To find out more about the NMSU women’s rugby club, visit the team’s Instagram page.  

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