NIU women’s rugby looks to avenge last season’s loss

By Korey Peterson

NIU club sports will kick off this weekend as the women’s rugby team heads to NIU’s polar opposite, Southern Illinois University, for a tournament.

After making it to the Chicago Area Rugby Football Union (CARFU) Cup Championship game last fall and losing to Loyola, the team has high hopes of reversing that outcome this season. The SIU Tournament will feature other teams from the state, including the University of Illinois and the host Salukis, but conference play won’t begin until Sept. 11 when the Huskies will have a rematch with Loyola, the defending champs.

“This SIU tournament is mostly for fun,” said Gina DeFano, the junior captain of the club. “After that, it’ll be time to get down to business.”

The team will return 14 players, but lost some veterans of the squad.

“We lost some really good players, but there’s no doubt that with the effort and commitment I have seen that we will be a successful team,” Defano said.

The team will be on the road for the first few weeks before its first home match against Purdue, followed by another Big Ten school, Northwestern. The team will wrap up the fall season at home versus the University of Illinois at Chicago.