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You don't have to be a man to play hard

Tacoma women's rugby team wraps up first season

By Olivia Aikala
On November 23, 2010

Rugby may not be for the elderly, but it sure can't be said that it's gender-biased. Women compete in rugby for the same reasons men do: camaraderie and exercise.

As a new addition to Tacoma Nomads Rugby Football Club, the Women's Rugby team competed in friendly matches for their first season this fall. While the men's team has been around since 1974, the women are up and coming. This season they are 2-3.

"I think we've done amazingly well. I think the fact that we've won even one game is pretty impressive because all of our players except at least three had never even watched a game," Coach Meg deGravelles said.

The women's team is made up of 15 players. A rugby match consists of two 40-minute halves. This year, the team has won against other rugby teams in the area who have been playing for years together. During the summer, the team played in tournaments called "Sevens," which involve seven-minute halves and seven players.

"I'm really optimistic about where we're going to go as we get experience," deGravelles said. Next fall, the team hopes to join a division two league.

As for now, their season is ending. Their last practice is on Thursday, Nov. 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Portland Ave. Fields in Tacoma. Their last game is on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 1:00 p.m.

However, they do plan on practicing once a week during the winter. The schedule remains tentative for now. All are welcome to join, even those who have no experience. Practices are open.

"All you need is soccer cleats or rugby boots, and a mouth guard. That's it," deGravelles said.

The fee to play is $200.00 per year, $100.00 per season. For more information on how to get involved, visit their website at http://tacomarugby.com/ or e-mail Coach Meg deGravelles at tacomawomensrugby@hotmail.com.

Why not try it out myself?

Having grown up around boys playing football, I began to think that I was well-prepared for my Thursday night festivities. I made my way onto the poorly lit rugby field. Several ladies greeted me, curbing my reservations about playing rugby for the first time.

We made our way to a shed to retrieve balls, blocking pads, and lights to help us see each other while we played. The players chatted on about their previous game while I followed behind, feeling out of the loop. I soon started to think: "What am I getting myself into?"

The coaches opened up practice with basic stretching and running drills. Next, we separated into two lines of four girls to set up some offensive drills. This is when I realized that rugby is in no way similar to football other than the fact that you tackle people.

When on offense, you can only pass to someone behind you. If the ball ever goes forward, it is forfeited. Add some swift movements, switches of direction and diving into the mix, and you have a rugby offense drill—not to mention a ball the size of a watermelon coming at you.

The momentum was rapid and girls had to be fleet on their feet. Now imagine me—someone who has never played the sport and has never watched a rugby game in my life. I felt like a chicken with its head cut off on the field.

The rest of the evening consisted of running, catching, and tackling drills. In running drills, the goal for each member of the team is to stay in one line as you run in every direction you can imagine. Insert some push-ups in between changing direction and you have a workout equivalent to running a mile.

The catching I could handle a little better, but it was the tackling drills that made it a tad bit uncomfortable. There's a technique to it: you wrap your arms around the victim's knees, place your cheek onto their—for lack of a better word—butt cheek and use your momentum to bring them down.

After the night was over, and we made our way back to our cars, I felt pretty good about myself. Overall, I could've used some practice, but I wasn't terrible. I began to think I could do it.

Little did I know that for the next few days I would be trudging around with every single muscle in my body aching.

 


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