Club sports highlight: Women’s rugby

Rugby is a complicated but fun sport to play and is starting to gain popularity in the U.S.

As Oakland University women’s rugby club president, Holly Russell describes it, “it is a complicated little sport of its own.”     

Players try to score points by getting the ball across the “try-zone.” Doing so scores the team five points. Players can only pass the ball sideways or backward to get it to the opponents try-zone. Tackling is the main part of defense as it stops the ball carrier from attempting to move forward. When a team member is down, they must release the ball and can put it wherever they choose. The opposing team typically forms a “ruck,” where one to three players lock into each other and try to retrieve or move the ball away from the opposing team.

Oakland has had a women’s rugby team since 2011, according to Russell. So, it is a fairly new org, but has been growing in popularity. This year, a third of the team’s players are new. fifteen players are allowed on a team with up to seven substitutes.

The team enjoys tough competition and, according to Russell, Davenport University, the team’s biggest rival during the season, is the source of much of that competition.

“They have such a high ranking and are very serious about how they play their game,” Russell said.

However, she also said comradery is very important and a number of rugby teams play simply to have fun. According to Russell, Western Michigan University is the most fun to play as that team has a lot of great players.

“I am looking forward to playing some good rugby… and have gotten such a passion to play,” She said.

As president, Russel makes sure to instill certain core values within the club. She wants her girls to have determination, perseverance, always push forward and are constantly wanting to better themselves. These core values are just as important off the field as they are on the field. 

Because women’s rugby is a club sport the team often needs to do its own fundraising. The team is considering selling t-shirts at games and, last season, the club did a fundraiser at Chipotle. The team also will most likely participate in the bowling event, which a lot of club sports participate in.

Russell would like to tell everyone to “come out, check it out. Everyone is a bit hesitant about rugby [as people see it as a somewhat vigorous game] but it does not have any more risks than other sports.” The women’s rugby club practices two days a week on Tuesday and Thursdays.

Russell said that Oakland’s team has one of the highest records compared to previous years and that the team is hoping to surpass its record this season. The last two home games are on Oct. 21, against Saginaw Valley State University at 6 p.m. and Nov. 4, against Ferris State University at 11 a.m.