Jan. 28, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Tara Lestarjette
They tackle, maul and ruck: the women’s rugby club team at Sam Houston State University is not for the faint of heart.
Established in spring 2006, they began as a women's counterpart to the nationally ranked men's team, with only seven players and no coach. Since then the women’s rugby team has grown to roughly 15-20 players and they have a certified coach, Mandi Valdiviez, who was an original member in the beginning stages.
The team is competitively involved in Texas Rugby Union's Division II, which plays against Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, which are in Division I and also against University of Texas, Rice, Texas Christian University, Texas State University and Angelo State University. Competitions are also held in non-cup matches known as “friendlies.”
Rugby is an intense sport by nature, but those on the team play fiercely and passionately, unafraid to get a little rough for the love of the game, according to the players.
“Rugby offers women the chance to play a physical contact sport,” said Megan Oadra, a senior psychology major who has played on the team for four years. She has also served as team president, vice president and fundraising chair.
“It’s kind of like a combination of soccer and football, which pretty much makes it the best,” said team captain, Kiana Curl. “It is really different than other sports. You’re in close contact with the other players. It can be very intense, but it’s worth it. If you love it, you bust it.”
A junior theatre major, Curl has played multiple sports from a young age. Though she had no experience in rugby before joining the club team, it is now her favorite, she said.
“What sport wouldn’t you like that you can hit someone?” said Curl.
The SHSU women’s club team has earned recognition for their efforts and dedication to the sport. They were the first women's team to take first place at Ruggerfest, a tournament held in Nacogdoches in 2009.
“Believe it or not, a lot of girls are actually better at rugby than men,” said Curl, who has been a member of the team for three years. “We’ve gained lots of respect.”
Unlike other sports, socializing with competitors off of the field is not only encouraged, it is expected, said Dana Bible, team adviser.
“When you are a rugby player, you can go anywhere in the world, find a rugby club, and almost instantly have a new home away from home," Bible said.
“The women's rugby team members are able to learn about the sport while gaining lifelong friends and a sense of responsibility to others,” she said. “This is a team sport and as such teamwork is stressed to each of the players.”
The sport allows positive interaction between veteran and rookie students, as the experienced players will often “take the rookie players under their wing to help guide them through the first year of college and even tutor them when necessary,” according to Bible.
“Rugby has a huge social aspect that is almost as important as the field play,” said Oadra. “Retaining members by planning socials and being active in volunteer work has worked to the team’s advantage. The women on the team are closer than ever and it has showed in their games.”
Delia Nava, a Spanish major, has played for nearly two years. Like many players on the team, she said she joined the team due to her love for sports and desire to be active. Though she had no previous experience playing rugby, Nava said it seemed fun and she wanted to give it a shot.
“Playing rugby has made me more disciplined,” said Nava. “I have made amazing friends and get to hang out with people from other schools around Texas. We have to play as a team. It doesn’t matter if we are hitting each other during the game because when it is over we are all friends and there are no hard feelings.”
“Rugby is more like a family than anything,” said Oadra. “Not just within your team, but among competitors. There’s a real social aspect. We get to travel a lot with tournaments, which helps friendships grow. It offers many incoming freshman a safe place to meet new people, workout, get homework help, and advise from other team members.”
The women’s rugby club team will host their only home match of the spring at noon on Feb. 19 at Pritchett Field. They are also currently recruiting new members.
Club Sports, directed through Recreational Sports, are recognized student organizations established to promote and develop common sport- and recreation-related interest.
Among those offered at SHSU are baseball, basketball, bowling, inline hockey, martial arts, lacrosse, men’s rugby, soccer, paintball, powerlifting, quidditch, tennis, trap and skeet, ultimate frisbee, wake boarding, volleyball and wrestling, which are run by student volunteer organizations. A detailed list is available at http://www.shsu.edu/~rca_www/clubsports/.
For more information on the women’s rugby team, visit them on Facebook.
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