Women’s Rugby Football Club embraces close 'family' relationship
The impact of two opposing players colliding together, being trampled at the bottom of a scrum pile or even dealing with bruises, cuts and blood is all involved in the full contact sport of rugby.
However, this physically and mentally demanding sport doesn’t deter some women at MSU.
The MSU Women’s Rugby Football Club provides an unparalleled athletic and extracurricular experience for students to be a part of — an experience club members hope will challenge and make other women love the tough sport.
With the sport being so rough and physical, hospitality business senior Taylor Cowan, one of the captains on the team, said with proper training there are ways to avoid injuries.
“It’s definitely a rough sport, no doubt about that, but with proper training and stuff there's ways to help prevent injuries — teaching players how to tackle properly and how to fall on contact properly you can avoid a lot of injury,” Cowan said. “That's definitely the big trademark. People say it is definitely rough.”
Rugby is similar to football but players don't wear padding or helmets. The ball is not an ordinary football or circular ball, instead players use a rugby ball that is shaped like an oval.
Rugby might be considered a male-dominated sport, but the Women’s Rugby Football Club offers females the same opportunities and members don't think rugby should only be played by men.
“I think women should be involved in rugby," Cowan said. "It’s a good character builder, it teaches girls to be, you know, tough and play sports just like the men do."
Athletic training sophomore Emily Cissell said she joined the club last spring and it was her first time playing rugby.
“I joined because one of the girls on the team was in the class I was TA (for) and convinced me to play and I’ve loved it ever since,” Cissell said. “I’ve never played the sport before, but she told me that it was very similar to just playing any sort of sport in high school. The difference is just football without pads.”
Kinesiology senior Mckenzie Koval has been playing rugby since high school and joined the club when she first got to MSU.
But the club is more than a team. Koval said they’re also a close community off the field.
“I really like that it’s kind of one big family, we play together as a team, but we also do things together outside of practices and games,” Koval said. “We have a lot of get togethers, any kind of parties like the Super Bowl party … it's just really one big family.”
Cowan touched on the close-knit family relationship among the team and said they’re always together.
“Out of all the sports that I played, I can say that my teammates I had on rugby are probably the ones which are my closest teammates,” Cowan said. “We’re together all the time, rather we’re at practice or hanging out around East Lansing, we’re always together as a group.”
The club has two different seasons. The fall semester is Big Ten play and the spring semester is tournament style and with other rugby clubs.
“This year we played Notre Dame, Rutgers, U-M, Indiana and Purdue,” Koval said. “Then in the spring it’s more of tournament style."
In terms of style of play and number of players on the field, the spring is different than the fall.
“The fall season we play 15, which there's 15 players on the field, and then the spring we’re preparing for seven, which there is only seven players on the field,” Koval said. “That’s where the different mindset comes in because it's still rugby, but there's different strategies to each.”
Currently, the club is practicing for the Round Robin tournament against University of Michigan and Oakland University on Feb. 19.