Women’s rugby builds close-knit community on campus through tackles, independent leadership and comradery
The Augustana women’s rugby club is scrum-thing to talk about, bringing an uncommon sport to campus, and creating a community of empowered women.
Women’s rugby, a non-sanctioned club sport, has kicked off its fall season with many returning members, new rules and posters in every bathroom—even the men’s.
As a club sport, a student is required to be the coach. Currently, junior Katie Jacobs leads the team in addition to serving as president on the team’s executive board.
The team is also responsible for their own funding, which they accomplish through door-to-door bake sales and t-shirt sales.
“We do get funding from ASA for a general fund and volunteering,” Jacobs said. “But the travel expenses are a lot, and we are trying to plan bigger events—like attending a USA rugby game.”
While recruitment may be low, the team prides itself on their quality over quantity mindset.
Every year, the team has a “storm the dorm” event, where they knock on every female’s room door and ask if they want to join.
The team practices twice a week and travels to games on the weekends, playing other colleges in the Midwest region.
“Our normal practice includes stretching, [and] drills—breaking it down to learn the basics and focusing on safety,” Jacobs said.
Last Saturday, the team played a tournament at Marion Park in Sioux Falls, tieing one game and losing two.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know that rugby is a lot different than
what people think it is,” junior Marlee Nicholson said. “It’s really not as scary or as dangerous as people think it is, and it is way more fun than I ever could have imagined it would be.”
Most players had no prior experience before joining the rugby team.
“I knew nothing about rugby before I came, but I heard it was a lot of fun,” freshman Eli Schulte said.
“It was my very first class of my first semester freshmen year,” sophomore Tiffany Miller said. “I somehow managed to sit by two girls on the rugby team, and they said I should join.”
And so she did.
“I always describe it as a mix of football and soccer,” Miller said. “And the gist is [that] you have scrums and rucks and can only pass backwards, and if the ball goes out of bounds, you ‘soccer throw’ it in to a girl that you lift into the air.”
“It’s constant action. It’s really fun to be able to play with contact and not constantly stop for calls,” Schulte said.
The game is played without traditional padding, despite being a full-contact sport.
“Just shorts and t-shirt,” Miller said. “Helmets are optional, but no one wants to be the wimp wearing a helmet. It makes it really empowering that we get to tackle each other.”
“The satisfaction you get from getting an impressive bruise or making a kick is something you don’t get from much else,” Nicholson said.
Jacobs said women’s rugby is an extremely close-knit community, based on its numbers hovering at just under 15 players.
“I look forward to going to rugby practice, not only because I get some good, healthy stress relief, but also because I get to be a goofball with my goofball teammates and practice a sport I love,” Nicholson said.
Not only are the women great teammates, but friends, too.
“Three of my best friends are from the rugby team,” Miller said. “It [has] made my college experience awesome.”
However, recent changes in the national USA rugby rules have made the game more complex.
“You have to keep up on rule changes,” Jacobs said. “Just this last game, I was told about new rules. Normally, they are written in legal wording, so we have to simplify it.”
The team has two more home games left before winter break, one on Oct. 7 and another on Nov. 4 at Marion Park.
Tomorrow, the women will travel to Brookings to challenge South Dakota State University.