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The men’s rugby team finished runner’s up in the A-side bracket at the 2019 Rickerson Cup


Photo Credit: John Maconga for the Daily Princetonian 


The Princeton men’s and women’s rugby teams jointly hosted the ninth annual Rickerson Cup on Rickerson Field this past Saturday. The women’s team won the B-side bracket, and the men’s team finished as runner-up in the A-side bracket.

It was the men’s senior day and last tournament of the year. The women received an at-large bid to the USA Rugby College 7s National Championships at Kino Sports Complex in Tuscon, Ariz., taking place May 24–26.

The men’s team kicked off tournament play with its first game against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), winning 22–7 in its first 7s game of the year. Up until the game, Princeton had been playing 15s, a different form of rugby.

William Paterson beat the Tigers 22–10 in their next game. Princeton recovered strongly, beating TCNJ 50–7 in its third game, but ultimately lost to William Paterson in the last game of the day. William Paterson will be participating in the Division 2 bracket at the 7s National Championship in Arizona later this month.

Vassar College won the men’s B-side bracket. At the end of the day, the Tigers secured a 2—2 record, beating TCNJ twice, while losing twice to William Paterson, which went on to win the title. 

The women’s team won the B-side bracket over Northeastern, avenging the loss it sustained in its first game of the tournament, when the team was still working to find its groove. Princeton bounced back to defeat Neumann University 22–0 and moved on to the playoffs. The Tigers won their semifinal 24–14 and moved on to the final to face Northeastern, which previously inflicted their only loss of the day.The game was tied at halftime 7–7, and a try on the last play gave Princeton a 17–12 win over the Huskies. The women’s A-side bracket was won by West Chester University.

Every year, the Rickerson tournament helps raise money for pancreatic cancer research. Stu Rickerson ’71, the tournament’s namesake and a pancreatic cancer survivor, remarked, “Today, I am thankful to be here. I am thankful to be anywhere.”

The championship began its fundraising efforts in 2010. As Rickerson recalls, the women’s rugby captain at the time, Elaine Bigelow ’10, asked, “Why don’t we do more than just play a game?” Bigelow — who had lost her father to pancreatic cancer before attending Princeton — and Rickerson decided to make the Rickerson Cup an opportunity to spread awareness of the disease. They partnered with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network — also known as “PanCAN” — and began to raise money to help fund research dedicated to finding a cure.

Since partnering with PanCAN, the Rickerson Cup has raised over $430,000 in support of finding a cure. In the 24 hours prior to this year’s Rickerson Cup — held on April 27 — $22,000 was raised, according to Rickerson. The money contributes to PanCAN’s Community For Progress initiative, which provides grants for junior researchers, giving them access to mentorship opportunities and training from many of the most esteemed researchers around the world.

“What I used to think is that it was a rare disease,” Rickerson said. “It’s not; there is [a] one in 64 chance that anyone here can get it in their lifetime.”

The Cup exemplifies what Rickerson and Bigelow hoped it would nine years ago. “The Rickerson Cup reminds our community that sports have the potential to transcend competition,” said junior Mariah McVey, one of the organizers.

Editor’s Note: The writer of this story is also a member of the Princeton University Men’s Rugby Club.

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