North Texas Daily

Women’s rugby now an official club sport

Women’s rugby now an official club sport

Women’s rugby now an official club sport
April 14
00:14 2015

Alex Lessard / Staff Writer

Just one month ago, female North Texas students struggled to find a physical, rough sport to play on campus. Now they have the chance to learn and play one of the fastest growing sports in the United States.

Women’s rugby is now an official North Texas recreational sports club, making rugby available to all students. With the help of local coaches and tips from the men’s rugby club staff, nearly 20 students learned the basics of the sport in the past two weeks. Assistant men’s rugby coach and Mean Green alumnus Andrew Marshall played a big role in the creation of  the women’s team.

“We wanted to add women’s rugby because I think it’s the best team sport around,” Marshall said. “There’s no other sport that demonstrates teamwork like this.”

The team practices from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Rec Sports Complex fields across from Peterbilt Motors Company. Though the team is eager to compete, it will have to wait until the fall. The team is inexperienced and must improve before playing other schools.

“Right now, we’re just focusing on learning the sport,” media arts junior Alex Smith said. “We have quite a number of international girls on the team. Some of them have played, but a lot of us are like me and never really participated in watching a game of rugby before recently.”

Because of most of the team’s members are new to the sport, the first two weeks of practice have focused on learning the fundamentals of rugby. Once the club grows in size and players have a better grasp of the game, the club plans to join a division regulated by USA Rugby to get the team on its feet.

“We’re working on getting into freshman orientations and drawing interest from girls,” Smith said. “A lot of girls are afraid of rugby because it’s manly.”

In America, especially in Texas, football is an enormously popular sport that most women don’t get the opportunity to play. Rugby provides a similar feel, only at a much faster pace. The matches have a running clock of 40 minutes and rarely see long timeouts.

Smith said she was looking to pick up something odd when her roommate with a rugby background told her about the team.

“The fact that it’s so foreign to me drew me to it,” Smith said. “Learning something new is always interesting.”

Engineering senior and current team president Anne Sophie, born in France, played rugby growing up and throughout high school. Sophie has tried playing various American sports with UNT intramurals, but found sports like football and basketball to be boring compared to her homeland passion.

“[In football], I felt like I was randomly running anywhere. It’s useless,” Sophie said. “But here [in rugby], everyone has the ball. You pass the ball to everyone.”

In the past two weeks, players learned everything from tackling fundamentals to the timing and flow of the game. Overall, Sophie said she has seen vast improvement since the first practice.

“We learn very fast,” Sophie said. “Last time, we saw how to tackle people, communicate, staying in line, just all the basic things.”

Former Mean Green men’s rugby head coach Art Anderson and Denton Women’s Rugby Football Club member Ellen Darby volunteered to coach the team for the remainder of the semester. Because of the timing of the club’s formation, an official head coach and team president for next season have not yet been named.

“We are very close to naming a head coach,” Marshall said. “It most likely will be somebody that’s out here already, somebody that has the enthusiasm.”

Having coaches with many years of experience has been a tremendous asset for a club in its early stages. Although the team likely won’t be competing against other schools until fall, Smith said the team is open to getting involved with the local women’s club this semester.

“We’re probably not going to be heavily competing until next semester,” Smith said. “People are already traveling, so it would be tough to get in right now, especially when we don’t know anything.”

Players from the increasingly successful Mean Green men’s rugby club have helped the women’s team recruit, organize and learn more about the game at practice. With recruiting opportunities at freshman orientation and other yearly kick-off events next fall, Marshall said he is looking forward to what the women’s team can do next year and beyond.

“Eventually, we’ll build the women’s program up,” Marshall said. “Based on interest, we’ll definitely be pushing them to play at a national level as well.”

Featured Image: Kinesiology freshman Cassie Mae, right, holds out her hand to catch a pass during practice on Thursday. Photo by Ryan Vance – Senior Staff Photographer 

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1 Comment

  1. Crawfishguy
    Crawfishguy September 04, 14:40

    Is there a girl on the team named Addison

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