The All-Marine women’s rugby team finished second out of the five branches of service that participated in last weekend’s inaugural Armed Forces Championship at the Cape Fear Regional Soccer Park in Wilmington, North Carolina, July 5-7.
The Marines began the tournament on Friday night with a 27-0 loss to the All-Army team. On Saturday, the Marines handed the Navy a 31-12 loss before shutting out the Coast Guard 31-0. A close match with the Air Force in the final matchup of the round-robin style tournament ended with the Marines on top 5-0, giving them their third straight victory and runner-up honors.
The Marines, who finished Armed Forces play with a record of 3-1, placed second to the All-Army team, who finished undefeated at 4-0. The Air Force (2-2) were third, the Navy (1-3) placed fourth and the winless Coast Guard team came in fifth.
Despite coming up one game short of gold, the All-Marine team’s head coach, Staff Sgt. Alan Mcalister, was thrilled with his team’s performance despite having only a week to prepare for the competition.
“I am ecstatic to have been a part of it,” Mcalister said. “I can’t wait for next year and to see this sport grow. I’m pumped. What a great start.”
On Sunday, the All-Marine team joined play in the Cape Fear 7’s Rugby Tournament to compete against teams in the women’s elite division. The Marines lost to American Rugby Pro Training Center 2 (ARPTC2) by a score of 27-14 and entered the consolation bracket. The Marines bounced back and knocked off NOVA with a score of 12-5 to get to the consolation finals where they got a 14-12 victory over the Atlanta Harlequins of the Women’s Premiere League to earn fifth place in the division.
For Coach Mcalister, a major key to the team’s success was the players’ unselfishness and willingness to be good teammates.
“We were very proud of the girls,” Mcalister said. “The girls bought in to the whole team’s goals, the offense and everyone listened. It was pretty amazing.”
One Marine that Mcalister mentioned as being the team’s vocal leader was Capt. Kate Herren, who was voted team captain by her teammates.
“Kate Herren mentally and physically performed at the best of her abilities,” Mcalister said. “Her talks before, after and during the games and her leadership helped lead us through the tournament.”
Mcalister also said that his team’s 5-0 win over the Air Force on Saturday was one of the tournament’s highlights.
“It was a knockdown, drag out fight,” Mcalister said. “Both teams had already played two games that day in the 98-degree heat. That one really showed me something.”
Rugby has been an All-Marine sport on the men’s side since 2008, but this was the first year women competed in a rugby Armed Forces Championship. The Cape Fear 7’s Rugby Tournament, which began in 1975, hosted over 75 rugby teams in different divisions including elite, open and high school.
The Marines completed the tournament with an overall record of 5-2.
1st - Army (4-0)
2nd - USMC (3-1)
3rd - USAF (2-2)
4th - Navy (1-3)
5th - USCG (0-4)