Women’s Rugby is a real thing, and it may be closer to JBU than you think.
On January 28, sophomores Emily Pearce and Roni Bagby set up a table in Walker Student Center with the hopes of getting 30 signatures from female JBU students who would be willing to play rugby. So far, they’ve gotten 20.
It all started with a conversation about Bagby’s positive experiences of playing rugby in high school.
“I played my senior year,” said Bagby. “We talked about how fun it would be to have a girls’ rugby team here; it would just be a lot of work to actually make it happen.”
As for Pearce, who has never played rugby before, the desire to play rugby developed after coming to JBU.
“All the guys were playing, and I was like, ‘That’s cool. I want to play,’” said Pearce. “Guys aren’t gonna let little five-foot me on the field to come play with them. So I thought, ‘Well, how else am I gonna play? Get a team started.’”
The “team” is far from its complete; currently lacking 10 signatures and a faculty sponsor. But for Bagby, this isn’t the first time she’s had to start a rugby club from scratch.
“Our high school in Broken Arrow, OK, had a guys’ team for a long time,” said Bagby. “Around November of my senior year, some of the girls and I decided to start a girls’ team. We were the first high school girls’ team in Oklahoma, so we traveled to Texas, Missouri and played a team from Kansas. We just kind of played around and learned the rules of the game that first year.”
Some of the JBU ruggers on the men’s club thought that a women’s team would be a great idea, both for the girls who want to participate and for JBU’s sports in general.
“We’ve gone to tournaments in the last couple years where… there was a guys’ tournament going on concurrently with a girls’ tournament,” said Chris Dye, who currently is captain of the JBU men’s rugby club. “I think that if something like this was done, it’d be a huge step for sports at the University… (Women’s rugby) might take a few years to really pick up the pace and develop, but, in time, it could be something great like the guys’ rugby is right now. (The men’s club) would definitely back them up… It would be something exciting for both JBU’s sports and women’s sports.”
As far as the Rugby community goes, Colin Scott, who plays first and second center on the men’s rugby club, said he would be happy to see the girls having an opportunity to experience such an atmosphere.
“You don’t think about women’s rugby when someone brings up the sport, but that doesn’t mean I think that they should be excluded from it or not have an opportunity to play,” said Scott.
“At least on the guys’ team, that brotherhood and teamwork has really made my time here at JBU a lot more enjoyable,” said Scott.
“If they can get that going and enough girls want to be a part of that, I think they should definitely go for it.”
In spite of rugby not always being considered a women’s sport, Pearce is nonetheless excited about the prospects of a team.
“It’s often looked at as a masculine sport,” said Pearce.
“But why would women not do this too? Is it because there’s no padding and it’s rough and all that? Does that mean anything different? No, I think that it’d be really cool.”