Northern Michigan University women’s rugby club team advances to national semifinals in Tennessee

MARQUETTE — The primarily self-funded women’s rugby club at Northern Michigan University has advanced to the National Collegiate Rugby semifinals and finals tournament being held in Knoxville, Tennessee, this weekend.

While the team receives assistance from NMU with field and Superior Dome space, some funding and administrative assistance, the group is primarily student-funded and led and is composed of 25 NMU students and volunteer coaches.

This NMU team, nicknamed the Northstars, will be a real David in a David-and-Goliath scenario at their first appearance at the nationals in the 28-year history of the program, coming in as the No. 16 seed in a 16-team tournament.

The Northstars have already defeated No. 7 Minnesota State-Moorhead 74-19 in the Midwest Regional Championship on Nov. 13 in Elkhart, Indiana, to reach the national finals.

They now face the No. 1 ranked and long-time reigning champion Wayne State College of Nebraska in the semifinals on Saturday, with a berth in Sunday’s final against either No. 3 Lee University or No. 6 State University of New York-Cortland.

There will also be a third-place game between the semifinal losers on Sunday in Knoxville.

That’s according to NMU head coach Tina Nesberg, who is leading a fund-raising drive to cover an expected $18,000 in expenses for the trip.

“The ladies are amped and ready to give WSC a fight and fully expect it’s a game they can win if they execute the basics and play with confidence,” Nesberg said in a recent email.

She has eight seniors on the NMU team, all of whom faced Wayne State in the regionals when they were freshman, when they lost handily.

Among the team’s achievements this season include a second-place finish in the Great Waters Conference, a 3-1 record with a No. 20 national ranking, a 28-10 victory over Wisconsin-Platteville at the conference playoffs in late October and a 43-0 conference championship match victory over the University of Chicago.

The NMU women’s club rugby program was established in 1993 and has primarily played teams in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin, along with some games against teams from the Lower Peninsula and other regions in the Midwest. The team is also affiliated with Northern’s men’s club rugby team, alumni and the university, according to Nesberg.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today