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Gianna Courtney '22 1st female WMA rugby player to sign NLI

After her first Wilbraham & Monson Academy Girls’ Rugby practice freshman year, Gianna Courtney ’22 went home wet and muddy.

She loved it, and that love for rugby eventually put Gianna on a list of one.

Gianna became the first female student at WMA to sign a National Letter of Intent to play collegiate rugby, committing to Sacred Heart University April 14 during a ceremony at the Athletic Center.

Sacred Heart plays a Division I schedule in the fall and spring seasons.


Gianna on what she liked about Sacred Heart: “I loved the coaches. They were really nice. And when I toured, I met some of the girls on the team and they talked to me a lot. They acted like I was already one of their friends.”

Gianna on signing her NLI: “I never thought I would even sign to play a sport, especially rugby since it was a sport I never expected to play. It’s cool, especially since I’m one of the first females at the school to sign.”

Gianna on what she initially liked about rugby: “The camaraderie of the team, and everyone was so nice. You could tackle someone on the other team, but then after the game you sit down and eat food with them and have a good time. You’re friends with everybody.”

Gianna on what attracted her to rugby: “I was always physical in basketball. I was always getting called for fouls. It was nice to be physical on the field and not get called for a foul. I fit with the sport.”

Coach Sommer Mahoney ’11 on what makes Gianna so good on the rugby pitch: “Gianna is a consummate athlete. She has the speed, agility and the strength, then combine that with her intelligence. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and that has made her a leader from Day One on the field. And now she’s earned the know-how of the game to become even more impactful.”   

Coach Mahoney on Gianna signing to play collegiate rugby: “I’m excited, the girls are excited, and all the coaches of this entire program, we’ve all worked hard to increase the presence of girls’ rugby here at the school. G’s success is a testament to what we’ve been able to produce in only five seasons. We’ve had plenty of girls go off to play club at some very good club colleges, such as Columbia, UMass and Wisconsin. But the fact that G is our first to be recruited to play at a division level is awesome for her and really great for us. It put us on the map.”


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