EWU women’s rugby club ready for spring after undefeated fall slate

The club team plays at Idaho this weekend


Junior Kailey Wallis caries the ball during practice on April 9. Wallis, who is one of the team’s captains, said rugby is “the craziest sport you can ever play.” | Bailey Monteith for The Easterner

By Taylor Newquist, Reporter

On the evening of April 9, the air at Roos Field was filled with oblong balls, but not footballs like it is accustomed to. The EWU women’s club rugby team practiced its lines and passing ahead of its scheduled match this weekend at the University of Idaho.

The team opened fall quarter with an undefeated 10-0 run, and was offered a chance to play in a national tournament in the spring.

“They have done well this year,” head coach Ian Martin said. “It was a bit of a setback losing some players, but we’ve picked up some new ones.”

Several players either transferred, graduated or were injured during the winter quarter and the team’s unbeaten streak was snapped in the only match they played. Currently, they lack the numbers and finances needed to go to the national tournament, but have several matches lined up for spring quarter.

“The league we’re in has not been that great, in that teams keep cancelling on us,” said Martin. “The young girls haven’t had that much experience yet, as much as I would like.”

Senior Katie Tonellato and junior Kailey Wallis, the team’s co-captains, led the group through warm-up drills as they tried to find their pace in the second practice back from spring break. Tonellato joined the rugby team when she was deciding what club sport to play and did not want to keep playing the same sports she had been.

“I came out looking for something new and fell in love with it right away,” Tonellato said.

Wallis said that she was about to sign up for the softball club, but Tonellato made her change her mind and sign up for rugby.

“I came out for one practice and it’s the craziest sport you can ever play,” Wallis said. “It’s like ten different sports mashed together and the atmosphere of the team is amazing. You just fall right in and know where you fit.”

Wallis and Tonellato said that hitting people and the necessity for teamwork are their favorite parts about the sport.

“It gets all your aggression out so you can be happy the rest of the time,” said Wallis. “And you can’t really have one star, you really need your whole team to be winning.”

The captains agreed the aspect that surprised them the most about the sport is the accessibility to anybody, and they encouraged any newcomers to test their luck.

“The smallest girls I’ve ever met are some of the hardest hitters on the team,” said Tonellato.

“Size zero girls [hit you] and then you feel like a truck ran into you,” added Wallis. “No matter what size, shape, or any skill-set that you had before — you can play rugby. Especially if you think you can’t, you can play rugby.”

The Eagles will play in Moscow against the University of Idaho on April 14, before they travel to Portland to compete in Babbfest, an annual round robin-style tournament, on April 19-21. They will also play at home against Gonzaga on April 28.