Summit Rugby alums to play in USA Rugby Stars and Stripes scrimmages
DILLON — Summit High School girls rugby alums Cassidy Bargell and PK Vincze will play in the USA Rugby Stars and Stripes Scrimmages on Nov. 18 and 21 at Infinity Park in Glendale.
The two-game series will cap Women’s Rugby Week, during which 49 of the country’s best female players will train at Rugby Town National Training Center in Glendale.
“It was super unexpected just because I’m super young compared to everyone at mini-camps,” Vincze, 18, said about being selected. “It’s really cool. It means a lot. I’m excited to play, to show off the rest of the skills I have in game play.”
For Bargell and Vincze — who will both represent the USA Stars side in the scrimmages — it’s the highest-level game opportunity either of the former Tigers have ever had. They’ll be practicing and playing alongside the most elite American women’s rugby players, including the likes of USA Eagles 7s players Ilona Maher, Jordan Matyas and Kristi Kirshe, who traveled to Breckenridge last fall.
“For 15s, this is definitely the highest level of rugby I’ve ever played,” said Bargell, 20, a junior who led Harvard to a 15s national championship last autumn. “I just feel so excited to be able to play with such incredible women’s national team players. They are some of the greatest players who I watched play while I was growing up playing rugby.”
Bargell and Vincze said the Stars and Stripes scrimmage experience is one where young players like them will get the opportunity to prove to USA Rugby coaches they deserve a spot on training squads in the build up to the 2021 Rugby World Cup slated for Auckland, New Zealand.
Vincze — a 2020 Summit High graduate who also signed to play rugby with Harvard but is postponing her education a year due to the novel coronavirus — said Stars and Stripes is an especially big jump for her. Ahead of starting practice Friday, Nov. 13, Vincze said she’s excited but a little bit nervous. She had been quarantining since Sunday, Nov. 8, at a hotel in Denver, and will be permitted to join USA Rugby’s training bubble pending a negative coronavirus test.
For Vincze, the experience will continue a rugby-first life she’s lived in recent months. After deciding in the summer to defer her enrollment at Harvard for a year, Vincze has spent much of her time in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the American Rugby Pro Training Center. She has lived and trained in a residency camp improving her skills against fellow invite-only young athletes despite the cancellation of women’s college rugby this fall. Outside of Stars and Stripes and a U.S. National Team mini-camp in Denver a couple of weeks back, Vincze will call Little Rock home through December.
What: USA Rugby Stars and Stripes Scrimmages
When: 2 p.m. Wednesday and Nov. 21
“I’m being introduced to (higher level) women’s rugby …” Vincze said of Little Rock. “Getting to that level, playing with girls striving for the Olympic squad, as well. Learning the tactical stuff, how to play the game.”
Bargell, who is living with an aunt and uncle on the Front Range in recent weeks while Harvard’s schooling is online, has been able to practice full time at USA Rugby’s training bubble in Glendale as part of a 10-person pod. She attends remote Harvard classes from 6-9:30 a.m. each day before practicing rugby and conducting strength and conditioning work from 10 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. each day. Bargell said her recent time in Glendale has helped solidify her as a scrumhalf with USA Rugby 15s.
In terms of Harvard rugby, Bargell said she doesn’t have any expectations for a spring semester. After the spring and fall seasons were canceled this year due to COVID-19 concerns, Bargell said there is no current plan from Harvard but that she trusts university faculty to make the best decision for student-athletes’ health.
For now, Bargell is happy she’s been able to play rugby in Glendale, which she said has provided more balance to her life.
“Having been in the daily training environment, it’s made school so much more enjoyable because you’re not just staring at a computer thinking about school all day,” Bargell said. It’s good to go outside and see other people, even if it’s just in my pod. I think it’s good to have that interaction even if just a few people at a time.”
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