Photo by Sal Ingram

With hands on each other’s legs, knees bent while staring at eight opponents, a scrum in rugby can be the most intimidating play of the game. It is a play where 16 people can collapse together hunting for the ball, tossed into the fray by another player. For senior Annie “Bert” Ahnn of the women’s rugby club, it’s just another play, another ball to get.

“It’s exhilarating,” Ahnn said. “The intensity of a scrum never lets up.”

On Feb. 4, the UCSC women’s rugby club defeated University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) 26-0. Despite the lopsided score, UNR never stopped fighting in a sunny-day battle for rugby supremacy.

“They gave us a run for our money,” said senior fly half and captain Maeci Brown. “They didn’t want to lose, and they hit us like it.”

The game had no shortage of big hits. Both UCSC and Reno laid bruising tackles on one another. Three players from UNR had to visit the medic for minor injuries because of the intense play on the field in the second half.

“The hits all blur together,” said junior flanker Akemi Yuki. “You just don’t get fazed by them when you’re on the field. You just want to win and help your teammates.”

In the second half, the Slugs broke free from midfield with long runs towards the goal, only to be stopped by a wall of UNR players. After the Slugs attempted to score, UNR stormed back up the field, and on three occasions came dangerously close to scoring. The Slugs’ defense had a stifling shut-out, but was never more dominating than when they were playing on their own goal line.

“They kept hitting us really well,” Yuki said. “And they kept threatening to score.”

Yuki scored two tries, while Ahnn and Brown added one of their own. With the win over UNR, the Slugs recorded their first home win of the season. The Slugs have a record of 1-1, with a loss to Humboldt State University on Jan. 21. Ahnn was excited to score and help her team get in the wins column.

“I was ecstatic to score,” Ahnn said. “When you score, everyone works together, so it’s pretty special.”

In the post-game huddle, Brown pinpointed areas for improvement. She explained that her team’s rucks (pictured above left) and offloads (above right), in particular, were not executed well.

Brown said her team is just starting to come together and play as a single unit.

“We need to get better at offloading,” she said. “Although we won, sometimes we don’t play together as a team as much as we need to. We have work to do.”


The women’s rugby club will play a home game against California State University Sacramento on Feb. 25.