Saturday, December 15, 2018

Women's Premier League Rugby - Life West Gladiatrix

Ferris addresses at halftime
Rock n' roll 'n rugby

Women’s Premier League Blue Division just got a whole lot more competitive. For the conference that already boasts 2018 finalists, Glendale Raptors and San Diego Surfers, will more than likely add 2018 USA Rugby Women’s Division 1 clubside champions to its bracket come the fall of 2019, the resumption of play and the new season. Life West won promotion by defeating D.C. Furies at Marietta, Georgia 88-nil in a relegation-promotion fixture last month. 

The Gladiatrix are a relatively new club, forming in 2015 on the San Francisco Bay area campus of Life West Chiropractic, which spawned the Life West men’s club in 2014. And Gladiatrix soon established a favorable outcome, winning USA Rugby Women’s Clubside Division II in 2016 and adding the Women’s Division I trophies to their case in 2017 and 2018.

Though there has been no official announcement whether Gladiatrix will compete in Blue or Red Conference, geographically it makes sense as current teams in the bracket are west coast organizations save for Glendale (Colorado) and Chicago North Shore (Illinois). With D. C. Furies dropping to Women’s Division I, Chicago will most likely fill the Furies former spot in the Red Conference, while the Blue Conference consolidates spatially.
Coach Ferris

Life West’s head coach is Adriaan Ferris, a native New Zealander who’s played at standoff and inside center. Ferris played provincially for North Harbour (NZ) and also in Europe. After coaching professionally in Ireland, he returned to the Land of the Long White Cloud to pilot the Northland Mitre 10 Cup side in 2010. He went on went on to be Assistant Coach of the Tonga Men’s team in 2014 before taking on the role as Athletics Director at Life West in 2015.

For top notch competition the Gladiatrix need look no further than the peninsula side of the Bay as WPL Berkeley All Blues contest the pill thereabouts. Coach Ferris acknowledges: “We have played the All Blues numerous times over the past three years, however never against their full strength WPL side during their competitive season. Whilst we have been happy to win games against their composite D2/WPL side, we have yet to face them at full strength in their Fall season. We had planned on playing them on 11/17 but we could not as the WPL Challenge match needed to be played. We are excited to market a “Battle of the Bay” match that adds to the friendly rivalry that already exists between the two clubs.” Suffice to say, the Gladiatrix eagerly anticipate the autumn of 2019 and their inclusion into the top women’s rugby tier.

Number 1!

Regards next season and the WPL Ferris, ever-steady and ruminative, adds: “We aim to be competitive. Our goal was always to play in a league whereby the players are being challenged. We believe the higher the level of competition, the better the players will become. Naturally, the WPL is a tougher league than National D1 level. Players are more experienced, fitter, stronger and faster. We are confident we will prepare well to compete.”

The Ferris family is actively engaged in our game as Adriaan explains, “My son Devereaux was recently capped for the US Men’s Eagles team in their historic, international win over Manu Samoa in Spain two weeks ago. Our family is very proud of his achievement. Our younger son, Marshall, has just graduated from high school and played for the National Championship winning Danville Oaks team last season. This year he will be playing for the Life West Men’s team before he heads back to New Zealand to spend some time in the Academy system down there. My daughter, Alaska, who is still in elementary school plays touch rugby and is involved in tennis. My brothers and I all played provincial rugby in New Zealand for North Harbour, Northland, King Country and Hawkes Bay. My father is a former coach of the New Zealand Maori All Blacks.” That is about as true and constant a rugby lineage as there is!

In the all-important promotion match in Georgia in November, Ferris reckons members of the XV who distinguished themselves by their efforts on the pitch were: “Nikki Kenyon (halfback), captain Jess Lewis (hooker), Amy Naber (inside center) and MVP, Jenn Sever (backrow lock/8),” though he qualifies: “However, it was the work of our tight five, Aubrey Huey (prop), Ange Wroblewski (prop), Rose Russell and Nicole Strasko (both locks) who laid the foundation for success in the challenge game.”

Though Ferris has been a large part of Gladiatrix’ success, he is swift to share accolades: “It is important to mention the two previous head coaches of the team, Jarrod Faul (2016-2017) who led the Gladiatrix to successive National Divisional titles in D2 & D1, and (former Glendale Raptor) Nese Malifa (2018) who guided the team to this year's D1 title repeat. Without their hard work and coaching, the team would not be where it is today.”

The Gladiatrix organization is comprised of support staff who are selfless, knowledgeable and eminently professional. These include: former assistant coaches Nathalie Marchino and Winiata Shortland; current resource coaches Alex Houser, Paul Keeler and Adam Perry; performance care staffers Kelly Farmer (athletic trainer), Marshall Ferris (hydro guy) and Drs, Logan and Lessard (both of whom are Doctors of Chiropractic).

Ferris feels, “special mention must be made to our key sponsors Phil Tagami of California Capital and Investment Group and Charlie Dubois of Standard Process.  Both Phil and Charlie are like family to the Life West Program – very supportive and giving. Without their help our program would not be where it is today.”


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