Rugby Program Expanded
Life Welcomes Women’s Rugby Team
Will Renfrow, DC Student
My understanding of rugby was limited to misguided generalizations. You see, where I’m from we have football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. My impression was that rugby was a sport played by stubble-faced foreign guys; a sport of the gnarliest variety of machismo. I could see toothless gorilla-men running around and drop kicking each other to smithereens. Somehow a funny looking football was also involved.
You may be able to imagine my horror when I heard there was such a thing as women’s rugby and that some ladies I knew would be playing on Life University’s very own rugby team. Of course, I immediately imagined toothless gorilla-women grunting and pummeling each other into the mud and somehow a funny looking football was involved in the madness.
Intrigued, it was time to experience this international sporting phenomenon and famed Life tradition for myself. On January 18 the Life U. women’s rugby team played in their first official match versus Emory.
The atmosphere of the stadium was very warm and inviting despite the frigid weather. The teams on the field wore thin jerseys and shorts. Taylor Swift was blasting from a loud speaker during pauses in the game action. I had always wondered what kind of music got female athletes in a mood to wreck each other without mercy. At one point a young man yelled out, “break her legs!” A nervous wiener dog paced up and down the bleacher; its nails clicking on the cold metal with each miniature stride.
Not only was the ball funny shaped but everything seemed a strange ballet of both intensity but also beauty. At one point a bunch of girls decided it would be a good idea to lift another girl up into the air like they were going to toss her over the fence. I feared for her safety. A moment later a different girl went down and a group of girls surrounded her to form a mosh pit and kick her around some. After running and lateral ball movement they were at it all over again. It wasn’t long before I was an authority on the ins and outs of rugby. To show off my newfound prowess I struck up a conversation with the nearest spectator.
That fan turned out to be Rosanna DeGraaf of the local Archangels club team. Rosanna took some time to explain the game to me including the “ruck” which is actually used to determine ball possession on a down player. I learned that scoring is called a try and is worth 5 points if unconverted and 7 points if converted. Girls being tossed into the air were attempting to catch or deflect the ball thrown by the hooker in a lineout.
DeGraaf encouraged me to contact Archangel teammate and Life player Kristin Cardell to catch up on Life’s women’s rugby squad. It’s no secret that Cardell; who plays on two different rugby teams, is wildly passionate about her sport. Not just rugby either as she plays an Irish game called Camogie on her off days.
What drives Cardell to be so passionate and involved? “Rugby in general in unlike any other sport. The bond rugby players share is unique and yet universal regardless of where you are.” she said.
In addition to a student internship Cardell devotes her time to practice with the Life team and the Archangels. She also allocates time for training and fitness for her athletic pursuits, as she points out, “rugby is easily ten times more fun when you are in shape.”
Cardell did not hesitate to identify the foundational supporters of the women’s team. Director Dan Payne has provided organization, leadership, apparel, and fundraising opportunities. Newly appointed Coach Rosalind Chou, JV/Varsity men’s teams, and manager Andrew McNeil were other names Cardell accredited with devotion to the women’s squad.
Cardell reported she was pleased with the girl’s performance against Emory in mid-January despite the loss. Emory was reportedly short two players and gained a slight advantage when two Women’s Premier League players filled Emory’s roster gaps.
“Our goal is to step on the field, play hard, and be a better player when we step off. This team is so very coachable because they listen,” said Cardell.
Female Life students interested in playing rugby are encouraged and welcome to show up to a practice. Cardell stated, “Just give it a try, you will know very quickly if it is for you. I was hooked after my first practice…it’s not as scary as it seems.”
I asked Cardell, “what was your worst injury?” she replied she has remained healthy except for a minor dislocated shoulder. She did however, see a male player with a broken femur who appeared to have two knees on the same leg.
My opinions and concepts regarding rugby have changed drastically. It’s not about wearing spandex in the winter, or listening to Taylor Swift to get aggressive, or girls who slam each other into the mud for fun. It’s about a shared passion, relationships, and aspiring to push the boundaries of personal and collective potential. It doesn’t get much better than that.
a bunch of girls decided it would be a good idea to lift another girl up into the air like they were going to toss her over the fence
“Rugby in general in unlike any other sport. The bond rugby players share is unique and yet universal regardless of where you are.”-Kristin Cardell, Team Player
Life Women Invited to Join – “Just give it a try, you will know very quickly if it is for you.”