Bruins beware: Claremont Foxes defeat UCLA in rugby showdown

Student runs with rugby ball
Hannah Maycock CM ’26 races past UCLA defenders in their match on Saturday, Nov. 4 (Sarah Ziff• The Student Life)

The Claremont Foxes B-side rugby team weren’t ‘skulking’ around when they crushed the UCLA Bruins 29-5 at Parents Field on Nov. 4.

Mostly composed of rookies and new recruits, the Foxes’ second team, named the B-side, challenged the Bruins confidently, bringing intensity and endurance into the first half. Early in the first half, Lindsey Manugian PZ ’27 led an aggressive drive, weaving through the front half effortlessly and blowing past the Bruins’ backs to land an early try.

“I didn’t go in expecting or even having a goal to make a try but it was really, really exciting,” Manugian said. “Getting to hear the team cheer and knowing that I get to be a part of our traditions — just really exciting.”

After Manugian’s try, the Foxes didn’t lay off, preventing UCLA from gaining momentum by keeping the ball in play, consistently winning scrums, making tackles and winning in the air on line-outs. Ariel Dene SC ’27 played strong defense on line-outs and rucks. Putting out consistent and strong tackles against the UCLA side, Dene helped the Foxes stay in possession in and out of mauls  –– rugby’s parallel to downs in American football –– earning her the inaugural player of the game award, according to the Foxes Instagram.

Ainsley Murphy SC ’26 was also a standout rookie, doing damage in the scrum, putting out tackles and landing a try.. Caroline Bullock CM ’24, who worked as a referee and player-coach for this match, highlighted Murphy’s standout performance.

“Ainsley just had some astronomical runs and some big hits that were really impressive,” Bullock said. “They’re only going to get better so I can’t wait.”

Rookie fly-half Hobie Wolff PZ ’27 also guided defensive movements and coordinated plays well in the first half, preventing any meaningful attempts at tries from the Bruin side and facilitating fast breaks into the Bruins’ half. This earned her the title of defensive player of the match.

“She [Hobbie] is calling plays, leading the backs, always yelling,” Manugian said. “It’s great to have that energy around.”

The game closed with two tries from team captain Hannah Maycock CM ’26 and Ashlee Viveros University of La Verne ’27, marking a double-digit wipe of the UCLA side and forecasting a great future for the Foxes. Bullock expressed admiration for the B-side’s quick success despite their relative inexperience.

“I cannot be more proud of these ladies,” Bullock said. “Four weeks ago most of them had never touched a rugby ball, and now to come out and win and compete for a [full] 80 minutes, each girl out on the pitch today got astronomically better, made mistakes and learned from them.”

This was also the inaugural home game of the Foxes’ season, and, for many on the field, their first time playing in a competitive match of union rugby. Last weekend saw the Foxes A-side take home gold at the Pacific Desert Rugby Sevens championships, an extended victory lap for the reigning Division II national champions, but they also fielded a B-side team to give rookies a taste of play.

On top of adjusting to rugby as a sport in general, many of the rookie Foxes also had to learn this less familiar and more structured style of play, resulting in some changes and learning experiences for players learning where they fit in on the pitch.

“We have only been practicing fifteens for a week, so we sort of just jumped in,” Wolff said. “So it’s really interesting to see where players will move. We tried to go in with no expectations and now we get to set high expectations.”

This won’t be the last time Claremont students will hear about the B-side, who will be representing the Foxes in DII intercollegiate rugby for the rest of the year after the A-side made the jump to DI following back-to-back national title victories. Both teams will be getting in on more rugby action at the Scrum by the Sea, a tournament hosted by UCSD on Nov. 19 and 20.

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