Women’s rugby moves to new conference


Sophomore Holly Chesnick tries breaking free with the ball during the Kent State womens rugby game against Central Michigan at Dix Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Kent state won big against Central Michigan with a final score of 81-10.

Kyle Samec

Facing tougher competition helps any team gain valuable experience, no matter what the sport is. The Kent State women’s rugby club team is joining the Mason-Dixon Conference next fall in order to do that and more.

The Mason-Dixon Conference includes two divisions, a north and a south. The north includes the following: Kent State (fall 2016), the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, James Madison University and the University of Maryland. The south has the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University.

“Competition-wise, it’s a lot more intense than what we face in the MAC,” said coach Jeff Horton. “They actually sent five of their teams to the round of 16 in the spring, whereas the MAC only sends its conference champion.”

“Playing teams of a higher caliber will do us better in the end … (MAC teams) didn’t necessarily put us in the best position to win against a school like Penn State in the playoffs in the fall,” Horton said.

Another big issue the Flashes have with the MAC is that in the fall, its conference champion isn’t an automatic bid for 15-on-15 playoffs, a huge reason to move away, said Horton.

“We have to file a formal submission listing of our opponents, wins, losses and overall scores (of our games),” Horton said about how the Flashes can qualify for the playoffs in the fall. “We are basically treated as a bubble team in the NCAA tournament.”

Colleen Carroll, a sophomore full back, grew up in Maryland and knows some Mason-Dixon Conference opponents, which makes her eager to show them what she’s learned playing for the Flashes.

“While I respect the teams in the MAC, there just isn’t any competition left for us,” Carroll said. “It’s sad to leave, but I’m excited for the new challenges ahead and to face harder teams and get new experience.”

The Flashes (4-1) host the number one team in Division II, Davenport University (5-0) of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Kyle Samec is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].