On Sunday, the women’s rugby team (9-4-1) faced Pennsylvania State University (3-4) on the road. In their second competition after resuming play in the spring, the Bears won all three of their games against the Nittany Lions.
“We have a very bright future and we have a great team,” wrote Head Coach and Associate Professor of Sociology Rosalind Chou in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “The team culture values feedback from coaches … and absorbs new skills and concepts very quickly.”
Brown kicked off the day in a one-sided 15s performance. Just three minutes into the game, Akilah Cathey ’25 scored the first try of the day, propelling the Bears onto the scoreboard. Capped off by a Julia Murray ’26 conversion, Brown took an early 7-0 lead, which it defended fiercely for the rest of the game. Eighteen minutes into the match, Emerson Goodrich ’23 expanded the Bears’ advantage by five points after touching the ball down in the try zone. Cathey doubled down on her offensive efforts, scoring another try just eight minutes later.
“We’ve been working hard behind the scenes, ensuring we’re the team we want to be,” Cathey wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “Setting goals before the game makes us hungry for (success). The physicality was there … we were having fun (and) displaying good cohesion.”
Up 19-0, the Bears kept their foot on the gas pedal: the win was sealed after Nikki Lynch ’25 scored the final try of the match, which Murray followed with a conversion to secure a 26-0 victory for Brown.
Following their 15s matchup, the Bears and Nittany Lions transitioned into playing 7s. In a message to The Herald, Chou shed light on the differences between the two rugby variants.
“Fifteens involves more moving pieces with specialists in the scrums and lineouts. It's a longer and slower game than 7s, and there is rest built in for every player so we have a more sophisticated attack plan that is like a chess game,” she wrote. “For 7s, it's all fast-paced and relies on making decisions with less time … there is less structure and more open, creative play.”
The faster, typically higher-scoring 7s games were no less successful for Bruno. The first matchup ended in a 36-5 Brown victory. In the first seven minutes of the game, the Nittany Lions struggled to respond to Brown’s relentless attack. Rapidly piling on points, Bruno — through four successful tries — took a 24-0 lead. In the 10th minute, Penn State reached the try zone for the first and only time, climbing within 19 points of the Bears. But Bruno did not allow the Lions to encroach upon their advantage any further. Just one minute later, Lynch scored for five, and two minutes after that Morgan Cunningham ’24 ensured a Brown victory through another successful try.
“The key to our success today was our tough mentality from the beginning and the energy we brought to the field,” Cunningham wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “We really focused on strong rucks and fast defense this week in practice, and that directly correlated to our success on the field … Learning an entirely new system this year under Coach Chou was challenging, but it has ultimately been extremely rewarding in these last few games and has a lot of potential for years to come.”
The Bears were once again victorious in their second 7s game, preventing Penn State from scoring for the second time that day. Carter Bedford ’26 and Aziza Alford ’25 advanced Brown to a 12-0 lead. From there, Cunnigham took over. Scoring two consecutive tries to end the game, she led the Bears to a 22-0 victory.
The Bears will compete again in the 7s against Harvard on Saturday.
“We hope to see a lot of success in the remainder of our season. We have a few 7s tournaments left where we hope to place high, along with a 15s game against Vassar (College) that we want to dominate,” Cunningham wrote. “We are most excited about the opportunity to play in (the Collegiate Rugby Championship) 7s at the end of April. Here, we hope to win the championship and really show the college rugby world what Brown women’s rugby is all about.”