Annapolis, Md. – Navy women’s rugby begins its first season as a varsity program with a matchup versus Lander University on Saturday at 11 p.m. at the Prusmack Rugby Complex.

“We are beyond excited for our first match as a varsity team. The girls have worked very hard to get to this point and can’t wait to compete,” said head coach Murph McCarthy. “They feel honored that they are the first varsity women’s rugby team at Navy and they’re eager to make those that have come before them that have worn the jersey proud.”

Credit: Navy Athletics

Program History
The women’s rugby team was founded in 1996 and has been one of the top teams in the country for the past three years. Navy was the 15s D-1 runner-up in 2019 and managed to bring home the 15s national championship in 2021. Navy also dominated in 7s play last spring, winning the Queen’s Cup 7s and Emperor 7s. The team went on to finish as runner-up at the College Championship Rugby 7s.

Murph McCarthy Profile
The 2022-23 season will be the fifth for Murph McCarthy as the head coach of the Navy women’s rugby team. The 2000 Navy graduate was named head coach prior to the start of the 2019 spring season.

In his first spring season with the program, Navy won a pair of 7s tournaments, the Emperor 7s hosted by Princeton and the Legacy 7s hosted in Annapolis. The team also reached the Division I final in 15s in the fall of 2019.

After a lengthy pause in competitive opportunities due to COVID-19, the team returned to action in the spring of 2021 to win the Division I national title in the 15s.
The Mids posted the program’s best 7s season in the spring of 2022. Navy tallied undefeated records in winning both the Queen’s Cup 7s and Emperor 7s and reached the Division I final at the College Championship Rugby 7s.

McCarthy began his coaching career in 2008 with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. He then served as an assistant coach for the Navy men’s team from 2011-19 before being named the head coach of the women’s team. McCarthy also coached with the All-Marine Corps Rugby 7s from 2015-18, a span that included him serving as the head coach for the last two years.

As a player, McCarthy has played for many military and club sides over a career that started with the Camp Lejeune Misfits in 1995. He was selected to play for the Potomac Rugby Union Select Side during his senior year at Navy. Other honors include competing on the All Marine Corps and Combined Services Selections teams. He still plays for the Old Breed Rugby Club on their 45+ team and volunteers on their board.

McCarthy is a retired Marine Corps CH-46E helicopter pilot.

Rugby Laws
A rugby match consists of two 40-minute halves with 15 players on each team. Teams attempt to score tries (like a touchdown in football) by running the ball over the try line (like the end zone in football) and setting down the ball. Teams are awarded five points for every try. The scoring team will then attempt to kick a conversion through the uprights of the goal post from where the try was scored for an additional two points. Teams also have an opportunity to score three points on a field goal when a penalty is called.

Although it’s similar to football, rugby is different as play is continuous. Players can run, pass or kick the ball, but may only pass the ball backward and the defending team can only tackle the player with the ball. All players play both attack and defense throughout the game.

Rugby Positions
Each team has 15 players on the field. Players wear jerseys numbered 1-15 depending on their position. Numbers 1-8 are known as the forwards and numbers 9-15 are known as the backs. The forwards compete in scrums and lineouts, while the backs are typically faster and more elusive players.

  • Loosehead Prop (#1): In the front row of scrums with his head to the outside of the opposing tighthead prop.
  • Hooker (#2): In the front row of scrums and hooks for the ball. Usually throws the ball in the lineouts.
  • Tighthead Prop (#3): In the front row of scrums with his head in between the opposition hooker and loosehead prop. Usually the strongest player on the team.
  • Number 4 Lock (#4): Usually one of the taller players and competes for the ball at lineouts.
  • Number 5 Lock (#5): Usually one of the taller players and competes for the ball at lineouts.
  • Blindside Flanker (#6): On the short side of the scrum. Usually a big tackler and ball carrier.
  • Openside Flanker (#7): One of the quickest forwards and one of the biggest work rates.
  • 8-Man (#8): Usually the biggest ball carrier on the team. Also a dominant tackler.
  • Scrum Half (#9): Puts the ball into the scrum and passes the ball away from every ruck.
  • Fly Half (#10): The decision maker on the team. The position that calls all the plays on the team.
  • Left Wing (#11): One of the fastest players on the team.
  • Inside Center (#12): Usually a big ball carrier and dominant tackler.
  • Outside Center (#13): Usually a big ball carrier and dominant tackler.
  • Right Wing (#14): One of the fastest players on the team.
  • Fullback (#15): Usually a counter-attack threat and the last line of defense.

Team Captains
Senior Eliza Herring was appointed team captain for the 2022-23 season and Nicole Deprey was appointed a co-captain.

Eliza Herring | Sr. | Prop/Lock | Portland, Ore.
“Eliza is like having your team’s biggest fan as a player and she is quite a rugby player and Midshipman,” said McCarthy. “The team and coaching staff love her positivity and it is apparent she really loves to play.”

Nicole Deprey | Sr. | Fly Half | Rockville, Md.
“Nicole has risen to the occasion she has been afforded as a captain of this team.  Her leadership at our flyhalf position is a huge part of why we seem to flow in attack so well,” said McCarthy. “I once remarked at how quiet Nicole is, but if you listen up to what is going on when we play out on the pitch, you will be able to note the reason I have since retracted that statement.”

Scouting Lander
Lander was supposed to open its season last Saturday versus Virginia Tech, but the match was canceled. Navy won a defensive battle over the Bearcats during the spring season, winning 19-10.

Live Stream
Fans can watch Saturday’s contest by visiting the Navy Athletics YouTube page for the free live stream. 

Up Next
The Mids will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. against American International College. The match will take place in Denville, N.J.

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