Belen Yudess ’25
Social Media Manager
What do the Foxes say? They are ready for another Nationals win! Founded in the late 90’s, the 5C women’s rugby team, also known as the Foxes, are the reigning Division II 15s Spring National Champions. The 30 member team is led by Team Captains Asia Anderson ’23, who also serves as President of the club, club Vice President Syd Riley HMC ’24, and Caroline Bullock CMC ’24.
The Foxes took Nationals after beating San Diego State University (SDSU) 22-7 in the spring of 2022. The 2023 group has started this season strong following wins against the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and the University of Southern California (USC).
There is one victory in particular that has fortified the team’s enthusiasm for the remainder of the season. “Last weekend we beat SDSU,” said Riley. “I think there was a lot of pressure leading up to that game, especially because we played it in the fall and it didn’t go as well as it went last weekend.”
Following last season’s success, the goal of this year was to keep up the momentum while also harnessing the energy of the team’s newcomers. “We had a really amazing season, which is something that we really cherished,” said Anderson. “We got to send a lot of our seniors off in the right way, and we can’t imagine a better ending [for them]. This year it was a fresh restart, which was very sad for our team, but it was also really cool for all the newcomers that came in. It’s a rebuilding era in a way while still maintaining this high competition level and wanting to go back to nationals.”
This sentiment was shared by co-treasurer Ariel Heimanson ’25, who was excited about the team’s high prospect about a return to Nationals with the addition of this year’s rookies. “I think definitely after a national title there is a little bit of pressure to do it again, which we know that we are capable of,” she said. “So let’s do it – let’s go to Houston again!”
Although the team has a lot of experience, many new members are still getting acquainted with the game. Because of this, the Foxes aim to create an environment that allows experienced and novice players to feel comfortable learning the sport and building their confidence as a player. “The team does a really good job of recruiting and making people want to stay,” said Kate McArthur ’24. “And same with the coaches, it’s clear that they really care and value everyone.”
The rugby team has established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, but this process has not happened overnight. Although the Foxes are packed with talent on the field, a large part of their success stems from their dynamic chemistry.
“We’re just a big team bonding team,” said Anderson. “That means team dinners after every practice, socials after every game, and random nights where we play capture the flag. It’s different things like that where we really get to know each other.”
One of the trips that serves the team both on and off the field is Scrum by the Sea, an annual tournament in San Diego. “We play a ton of rugby and it’s a great place for rookies who’ve never played rugby before,” said Heimanson. “That’s oftentimes most people’s first rugby game and it’s just a great experience, and I think that’s a great bonding experience for rookies to create friendships that go way past that trip”
These bonds extend past graduation – the team is grateful for their growing alumni network and ongoing support. “We have group chats with different alumni, but we’ve been working on newsletters to be sent out to a lot of our alums, fans, things along those lines,” said Anderson. “There’s normally an alumni game that happens and from there it’s just furthering that network. I think right now we have a pretty powerful alumni network. And we are always constantly trying to build it up and reach out to previous players.”
The Foxes have three matches until playoffs, with their next game on March 25 at home. As they prepare for the last half of their season, Anderson is optimistic about the team’s chances of a return to Nationals. “The stars are aligning in our favor as it seems, but we do need to stay focused because there’s no easy rugby game,” she said. “It’s just maintaining what we’ve built so far and uplifting people and as we approach these more difficult games. I think as we strive for semis and nationals, it’s just focusing on ourselves rather than other teams. We’ve got to understand that we are the Claremont Foxes first before we are a team that needs to beat somebody else.”
Heimanson reaffirmed this approach to Nationals, and the importance of staying grounded in the present. “It’s a one game at a time mentality. I think we can’t look into May or [constantly wonder] are we going to go to Houston,” she said. “I think staying focused on what’s ahead of us, one step at a time, it’s the only way we can do it. That’s how we did it last year.”
The Foxes kick off at 11 a.m. on Parents Field for all home games, and they also sell merchandise for fans. The team highly encourages anyone interested in rugby to come out to a practice, and rookies are welcome any time! For more information and updates, follow the Foxes at @claremontfoxesrugby on Instagram.
Image Source: Susan Park ’24