Womens Rugby defies stereotypes

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Mckenzie Ford

EWU Women’s rugby team posing for a photo after a long night of practice. Photo Credit: Alisha Trevaskis.

By Ryan Hatten, Contributor

With National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) having recently passed, EWU’s women’s rugby team trains as hard as ever for their next match.

Rugby, like many other contact sports, is often male dominated. According to a survey by Scrum Queens, out of the 60,00 registered rugby players in the USA, only 15,00 are women, making up only 26% of all rugby players in America1. However, given the chance, the EWU women’s rugby team saysthat they have just as much of a right to be on the field as men.

“I feel that [rugby], for a lack of better terms, levels the playing field,” said Sydney Lester, a junior at EWU who plays as a forward lock on the team. “We are just as good as the men. We have just as much skill, determination to train, and we care just as much about the sport as they do.”

Keri Kelly
Lindsey Kelly, a Forward for EWU Women’s Rugby, training in the Field House- Photo Credit: Alisha Trevaskis

During the winter, the team meets twice a week for two hours each. On Tuesdays, they practice in the Fieldhouse, where they focus on running drills and passing. On Thursdays, they meet in the wrestling room, where they focus on tackling and takedowns.

“Since it is a male dominated sport, it’s not about recognition, it’s about legitimation,” Lester continued. “A lot of people are like ‘oh girls don’t do this, girls don’t do that’ but girls can, and will, and are doing it. I think it’s super cool that we have just as much skill as the men…The girls are hardy and can get tackled on solid ground and not lose their minds.”

“With rugby, people think ‘girls hitting girls, that’s got to get catty,’ but that’s just not the case. We hit just as hard as the guys and we do just as much as them,” said Kelsey Stever, a junior at EWU and the team’s Forward Captain (in football terms, she’d be the equivalent of a defensive tackle).

Stever, alongside the Back Captain (Running Back equivalent), junior Teala Frazier, are tasked with leading the other team members on the field and during practice. All the while, their coach, Ian Martin, a former rugby player from England, barks orders from the sidelines.

The team works hard and plays hard, but at the end of the day they aim to be as inclusive as possible and to have fun.

“No matter what kind of things women do with their free time, what kind of background they have or their athletic ability, it doesn’t matter because they’re all good in some way.,” said Lester. “There’s literally a position for everybody.” 

EWU women’s rugby has two away games in February. On the 22 they will be playing at Western Washington University, and Central Washington on the 29. Their next home game is on the 7 at playfield 3, where they’ll be competing against Betterside.

1-“Popularity and Equality in Women’s Rugby.” Scrum Queens, 28 July 2015, www.scrumqueens.com/features/popularity-and-equality-womens-rugby.