Algonquin girls’ rugby team is state champ
By Jeff Slovin, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The Algonquin Regional High School varsity girl’s rugby team won their fourth consecutive state championship with a 17-5 victory over rival Berkshire, at a match played at Fort Devens May 24, capping off an undefeated season. This achievement marks the first time an Algonquin sports team has won four consecutive state titles.
The girl’s rugby team started as a club in 2010 and was made a varsity sport in 2011. Coach Laurie Bourdon has been coaching the team since its inception. She has an impressive rugby resume, including playing on two National Championship teams with the Boston-based Beantown Woman’s Rugby Team, and a second-place finish with the USA national team in the 1994 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
English teacher Emily Philbin, who played at Providence College and founded the Providence Women’s Club, typically co-coaches with Bourdon, although she took this year off to complete a degree in Irish Literature in Dublin.
Girl’s rugby is a real family affair at Algonquin. Bourdon’s daughter Kelsey was instrumental in starting the club during her freshman year at Algonquin, and another daughter Maggie, who is currently a junior, plays on the team now. There are three sets of sisters on this year’s team, senior Sarah McAndrews and her sister Emily, a junior; Maggie-Anne Scott, a junior, and her sister Madison, a freshman; and sophomore Michelle Dickie along with her freshman sister Sam. There are another two players on the team whose sisters graduated last year.
“I think younger siblings see how much fun their older sisters have playing, being part of the rugby team, and learning a new sport,” Bourdon said. “They think it’s cool to tackle, run, catch and pass. I think it’s definitely a genetic trait. My dad played rugby in the late 1960s and introduced me to the sport.”
Girl’s rugby is still at the ground level phase in Massachusetts. There are presently only five high school teams in the state. The Algonquin girls play all of those teams, as well as teams from Connecticut, during their season. The league is run through the Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization.
Rugby is a new sport for nearly all of the players that join the team, so there is a lot of emphasis on teaching the new players the fundamentals of the game. When asked to what the team’s success could be attributed, Bourdon responded: “We have great administrative support which helps attract dedicated athletes and provide the facilities to teach our players how to play the game of rugby. Our numbers and our team commitment is the biggest reason we have been so successful.”
That support will be needed for next season, as 9 of the 15 starters will be graduating.
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