Women’s rugby team merges with Westfield, becomes Hamilton United


Veronica Teeter

Maddie Schultz, rugby player and junior, catches the ball during a drill. Practices are held at Monon Trail Elementary School.

Ben Traylor, Reporter

With a 0-9 regular season for the Carmel women’s rugby team, the team, along with Westfield High School’s program, struggled to recruit enough athletes to compete in the 2018 season independently. Westfield finished last season with a 1-6 record, securing their only victory against Carmel. As a result of insufficient numbers, the clubs this year opted to merge the programs in hopes of creating a team best suited to compete.

“We knew during the fall that we lost a lot of seniors that had graduated so (we) would have to work to recruit new people,” Dariana Paz, Westfield High School

 rugby player and junior, said. “Carmel didn’t have many girls looking to join (rugby) either, so we saw it coming in a way.”

Working together creates a unique scenario for the athletes formally accustomed to competing against each other.

“Since we’ve always played together as one (team) in the fall, it would feel weird playing against them in the spring season,” Alyssa Pisano, rugby player and junior, said. “Combining with Westfield has been awesome because we are all already so used to each other from years of playing together.”

With Carmel and Westfield’s departure from the North Conference at the end of last season, Rugby Indiana realigned the teams over the off-season. Conferences in Indiana now better reflect geographical boundaries.

As a result of recent changes, programs in the northern part of the state were joined by Culver Academy and Carroll High School to fill the gaps in the North Conference.

“There are three divisions in Rugby Indiana for high school girls: Super League, D1 Varsity and Developmental,” Assistant Coach Enrique Yrigoyen said. “Our team, while it is (officially) Westfield, is Hamilton United and competes with other D1 teams.”

D1 Varsity is an intermediate-level of rugby, falling short of Super League teams such as North Central. The joint Carmel-Westfield team now operates within the South Conference, offering competition to Greater Indianapolis squads such as Avon and Noblesville.

“The team agreed to call themselves Hamilton United after we (joined Westfield),” Yrigoyen said. “We have eight girls from Carmel, one girl from Kokomo and some from other schools.”

Yrigoyen has transitioned from Carmel’s Head Coach last year to assistant coach in 2018, working alongside former Westfield Head Coach Mark Behrens. This change was made to appeal to as many athletes as possible and allows the knowledge and experience of both teams to merge seamlessly.

“This (change) has truly been for better because all the new girls have an opportunity to learn the stuff from each other,” Paz said. “It’s made us a better team right now than we were last year.”