Player Q&A: Boston University’s Susi Neher - Collegiate Rugby Championship

Player Q&A: Boston University’s Susi Neher

Philadelphia, Penn. — May 24, 2016 — Although a lifelong athlete, Susi Neher grew up in Hellertown, PA but didn’t try rugby until she attended Boston University. Previously a swimmer and soccer player at Saucon Valley High School, she looked for something new when she moved to New England.Boston University Women

What inspired you to tryout for the team? Rugby practiced from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. my freshmen year and I was like, ‘I’m a morning person, I can do this!’ I went to my first practice with my roommate- she also came along. Afterwards she said, ‘Not for me!’ I was just hooked from the start…Our field is in the middle of three big dormitories and they would always refuse to turn the lights on. So we started the practice in the morning at 5:30 with the light from the train station, which was across the highway, and that illuminated half the field until the sun came up- then we could use the whole field.

Did you play rugby your entire time at the university? I played all four years. I did do a semester abroad during, [spring of 2015,] my junior year and I was actually able to play 15s with a team in Switzerland. Luckily for me CERN, the physics laboratory in Geneva has a women’s rugby team…in the western part of the country so I got to play with them for a semester which was cool.

What’s their name? The CERN Wildcats. It’s a bunch of women who are all female physicists…they play and they travel throughout Switzerland and southern France to play other teams…some college students so early 20s to early 30s…a lot of it was sort of trial by fire, because with the language barrier you didn’t get to ask many questions.

Have you played on other teams? When I’m home in Pennsylvania- if it’s during the summer, I play 7s with the Lehigh Valley Hooligans which is a team in Bethlehem. If I go home occasionally during the school year and they’re practicing or have a game [they’ve given me an open invitation to play with them.] They’re really great and I love playing with them especially because summer 7s is my favorite thing…Also last summer when I was up in Boston I played with Boston Women’s Rugby.

Have you played at the Penn Mutual CRCs before? I played the last two years. My freshmen year, since I am pretty close to Philly, I came down and watched and that was the first year BU women played. So my first year I got to watch and then the next year I got to go down and play.

Any particular moment, either as a spectator or participant, that stands out to you? Last year- so our 7s program is very new at BU. We’ve had a 15s team for quite some time now but even my freshmen year we still played 15s in the spring and the 7s team was something that happened once the regular season was over…My sophomore year the spring season became a 7s season. So now this is the third year we’ve had a dedicated 7s season and it’s really a developing program and we’ve improved a lot of a team, but last year we actually won our first game at the CRCs. The first two years it was a tough but great experience to play high level rugby and come away without a win.

So last year winning that game was a highlight for me because it was just really the culmination of two years of really solid work and that season specifically just a lot of focus on fitness and handling and making 7s our game for that season. So we’ve done a lot of that this season. I’m hoping that this year at the CRC is a good improvement on last year and that we win a couple more games this year.

Boston UniversityBut weren’t you abroad last spring- how did you play in the Penn Mutual CRCs? I had been in contact with my coach in the off season and I was like, ‘I’ve been playing with a team so I promise I’ve been working on my speed and agility…’So I came back in early to mid-May and immediately just got back into practicing with everybody. [The coach and I] were sort of in agreement that if I got back and showed that I was ready, he would let me play. So it was very kind of him because- we always have more people participate in the 7s practices leading up to the CRCs than obviously come down. So more girls practice than we can roster. So it’s hard because you’re competing for that spot. I had to prove that I was going to be able to jump back in and play, but fortunately I was able to.

Is their anything else I should know about BU Women’s rugby? We have come a long way as a team and as a program…This year we’ve been able to do a lot with the numbers we have. Being able to put out a 7s A-side and a B-side and a developmental 15s side [this spring] it shows the strength of our program. We’re really growing and gaining some notoriety but also we spent a lot of time this season in 7s just really working on fitness.

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