The Las Vegas Invitational's Silver Bowl fields are a flurry with women's matches. There's a nice mix of Canadian and American teams logging their first games of the weekend, and as far as the colleges are concerned, Women's Cougar Rugby was certainly the class of the opening round.
Even just approaching the pitch, one could see the physical differences between WCR and Stony Brook University, the Cougars' opening round opponent. The majority of WCR's players were lean, strong and fast. They were well drilled and piled on 36 points over SBU.
WCR has two teams out in Vegas - one 7s, one 15s - and it's no surprise that the Provo team ran away with the win, as coach Tom Waqa has placed his veteran players on the 7s team and less experienced on the 15s squad.
"Our goal this weekend is exposure in Utah," Waqa said. "The core, starting [15s] players are on the 7s team. They're more athletic, quick and I wanted to develop their individual skills in the game of 7s."
Among the veteran group are Star Bollinger-Monson, Keelia Harker and Kristi Jackson, all of whom are familiar names to the national 7s pool. One exception to the veteran-only 7s team was Canadian-born Jordan Gray. The tall, powerful prop posed some trouble for SBU and allowed the 18-year-old to find the try zone.
"She's doing a lot of good things for us this season," Waqa said. "She normally plays No. 8 for us [in 15s], but if we can get her fit and conditioned, she could be really good."
The LVI is part of an extensive pre-season that will see the Cougars play New Mexico, Glendale Raptors and tour Canada. WCR won the Pacific Mountain East
Conference in the fall, so their eyes are already set on nationals. One can bet that Stanford and Penn State, also playing in the LVI, will be keeping their eyes on the Cougars.