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Morgan ’16 nominated for Collegiate All-American team

The women’s rugby team, a club sport at Brown, ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation

Saskia “Kiki” Morgan ’16, who plays as a wing for the Brown Women’s Rugby Football Club, was nominated Sept. 24 for the Women’s Collegiate All-American first team for 2012-13.

“I’m just so incredibly proud of her,” said team captain Lucy Fernandez ’14. “I’ve seen her grow so much as both a player and a person over the past year.”

Morgan, voted “Rookie of the Line” by her teammates in her first year, has already scored four tries in the two most recent games this season.

Head Coach Kathy Flores said she believes Morgan “has what it takes” to play at a national or even international level. Flores was Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team during three World Cups from 2002 to 2010. “She has the physical skills, but the hardest part on the international level is the mental toughness,” Flores said. “I think that she could play for the United States (national team).”

“Kiki is a goofball,” said Saudi Garcia ’14. “She’s great, and we all love her, but when she’s on the field she’s one of the fastest players in the entire country.”

Morgan is the “latest incarnation” of a tradition of excellence in women’s rugby at Brown, Garcia said.

The club team — the first of its kind in the Ivy League — has consistently been ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation in the past few years, and it has won the Ivy League Championship six years in a row.

Established in 1977, the BWRFC has had some alums go on to play at a professional level, including Emilie Bydwell ’08, who plays for the U.S. national team. Another professional alum, Izzy McKinnon ’11, plays for the professional club the Atlanta Harlequins, which is currently the top-ranked Division 1 club in the nation.

Fernandez said the BWRFC has seen continued success over multiple generations due to a mixture of a “really cool, familial culture” and hard work. “The culture of rugby in general is really great, but there’s something special about the Brown team,” Fernandez said.

Flores, who took over from previous Head Coach Kerri Heffernan this season, said she found the culture to be “one of acceptance.”

“I’ve just been trying to extend things and continue the stuff that (Heffernan’s) done with a little more technique-oriented stuff,” she said.

Since rugby is a club sport, the team does not recruit players before the season starts, and some of the players have no rugby or even athletic experience before joining BWRFC. With these difficulties in mind, Garcia said the continued success of the team stems from “the new skills that we’re getting from people that are just coming onto the team with the experience from people … who have played for a long time.”

This season, the team is coming off a rough 57-7 loss to Harvard after a 34-22 win over Princeton Sept. 28 and an impressive 105-0 clobbering of Columbia the previous weekend. Before Saturday, its only loss of the season was to Army in a friendly match.

“I think we’re off to a pretty good start, given that we have a new coach and a really young team,” Fernandez said. “We still have a lot of work and building to do before we get to nationals.”

The team’s main focus is the Ivy Championship, which will take place the first week of November.

“We have work to do, but we’re really excited about playing (in) the Ivy championship,” Garcia said.

After the tough second half against Princeton, Flores said she sees the Tigers as their main rival this season. “If we can clean up the things I think we need to clean up, we’ll do well,” she said.


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