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Neasa McLaughlin

My Rugby Journey

I am currently a first year attending Harvard after graduating from West Morris Central HS in NJ in June 2023 (Harvard Class of 2027) and enjoying playing on the NIRA NCAA D1 Women's Rugby team.

 I have been a member of Rhinos Rugby Academy High Performance Development residential & remote programs and have played on their select teams both nationally and internationally in Portugal, Austria and South Africa. 

I started playing rugby in Morris Rugby Corporation's flag league for Long Valley Wolfpack in 2014 and then progressed to their U-14 7s team and subsequently their U-18 high school 7s and 15s teams.

I got my first taste of rugby overseas during a Morris Rugby U-14 girls tour to Ireland in 2017 where we played against several Irish U-15 club teams and got to attend games at the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017. We got to share a training session with the USA women's national team and even got to visit the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins at his residence (Áras an Uachtaráin) in Dublin. After that adventure you could say that I was hooked on the game! 

My second overseas rugby tour was to Portugal to play in the Portugal Youth Rugby Festival (PYRF'19) which is one of the top international youth rugby tournaments in the world.  I travelled with Morris Rugby U-14 & U-18 teams and due to injuries on the Morris U-14 team, the panel was combined with Rhinos Rugby Academy which led to my first tournament appearance for Rhinos on their USA Schools U-15 team.  We forged our way through the tournament to the final and in the end were narrowly defeated by a strong Portuguese team and finished runners up. 

Rhinos Rugby Academy kept in contact after our exploits in Lisbon and in June 2019 I played on the U-19 Rhinos girls  team that won the tier-1 HS Rocky Mountain challenge USA Rugby Midwest Regional Cup tournament in Denver Colorado. 

2020 started with the World Youth Rugby Festival in Irvine hosted by Rhinos with top youth teams participating from South Africa, Canada and USA. At the festival I played on Rhinos U16 and U18 girls teams.  We won the U-16 playoff and finished 1&1 in the U-18 bracket.

My final tournament for Rhinos in 2020 was at the LA 7s Invitational tournament where I captained the U-16 team and we went into the plate bracket after just missing out on day 1 qualifying for the the cup finals. The results went our way on day 2 and we won the plate in the end. 

In 2021 I captained Rhinos Rugby U19 team at Bloodfest in Austin, TX where we won the girls U-19 competition.  I also played on the Rhinos Elite U-19 team that finished 2nd at Falcon 7s in Little Rock, AR. At the NAI 7s in Salt Lake City, UT I played on the U-16 Rhinos girls team that finished with bronze (3rd place). 

In 2022 I captained the Rhinos San Clemente R10c Academy Girls 10s team to victories in the Stellenbosch Cup at Danie Craven Stadium and the Pretoria Cup in Loftus Stadium South Africa. I also captained the Rhinos Academy Girls 7s team at NAI where we finished with a Bronze medal. At home my club team Morris U-18 Girls won the inaugural inter-state league as well as the Florida Invitational Rugby Showcase 

In 2023 I captained the Rhinos Academy Girls 7s team to victory at the LA Invitational Sevens and my club team Morris U-18 at the High School National club championships where we placed 6th overall.

I have been selected to attend USA JNT U-18 Camps in 2021, 2022 and 2023 as as part of USA Rugby pathway program

Go Crimson ! Go USA Eagles!


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