Elite Women's Rugby NewsGlendale Merlins Rugby
Glendale Merlins Women’s Premier League open season at Berkeley
GLENDALE – Women’s Premier League (WPL) Rugby is back, and the Glendale Merlins are ready to start their 2017 campaign off with a formidable challenge, traveling to face league opponents Berkeley All-Blues in California this Saturday (2 p.m. MT).
Photo by Justin Purdy
With the Glendale Raptors moniker now reserved for the men’s pro team, all the other Glendale Rugby teams have united under the Merlins banner. The Merlins women had built a strong tradition as the Raptors, but are excited for the new brand and new challenges that lie ahead.
“The new brand is refreshing,” said Raptors Hooker Jeanna Beard. “It really brought the women’s teams together and we embraced the new name, new logo…it breathed new life into us, and we’ve actually turned a corner in our team culture for the better with it!”
While the logos and look are new and exciting, the end goal remains the same for Glendale.
“I think the main goal is to win back our national championship title!” Beard expressed. “We’re hungry to earn our spot back as No. 1 and we have been preparing for it since November.”
Beard joins a lengthy list of returning veterans and stalwarts on the Glendale team with USA Eagles experience including team captain Sarah Chobot and co-captain Jenny Lui as well as fly half Hannah Stolba.
They aren’t the only players with international experience. French international Amandine Chatelier will also make a return to Glendale with hopes to return the team to the top.
Another player to watch this season is 24-year-old Alli Hale, who will bring dynamism to the attack and sure tackling on defense. Converted from the flanker position, Hale will be valued for her speed and field vision slotting in at the fullback position for the Merlins this season.
After finishing just short of another National Title during last season’s campaign, the Raptors women know the bar has been raised in terms of competition, but remains a hungry team heading into the new season.
Said Beard, “I expect that we will have a bit of trouble finding our stride in the beginning, but our fitness, our flooding of veterans, and our rugby smarts will really shine in the tough times.”
It will start with this weekend’s opponents: The All-Blues. While Berkeley has been rebuilding in recent years, it’s a program with both women’s club 15s and 7s National Championships under its belt, having won those titles as recently as 2013. It’s reason enough not to take the opponents lightly this weekend.
“It’s hard to say what to expect with Berkeley,” said Beard. “However, they’re still the winningest women’s club team in the USA, so I’m sure they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeves.”