Women’s rugby plays first home match

The women’s rugby club will finally be able to show the student body what they’re all about.

This Saturday at 3 p.m., John Brown University’s women’s rugby club will take to the pitch and square off against the University of Arkansas in their first-ever home match. The club is eager to finally display their talents in front of their friends and faculty.

“I think it’s gonna be great,” Hannah Lochala, first center, said. “We’ve put a lot of hard work into this, and I think we’re ready. I’m really excited for the JBU community to see how far we’ve come.”

Women’s rugby became an official club on Oct. 8 when the University’s Student  Government Association approved their petition. Coach Jarrod Heathcote said earning legitimacy was an affirming experience for the whole team.

“It was a great morale booster,” Heathcote said. “Not only have we seen support from the JBU community, we’ve also seen support from the men’s club and the alumni. They’re all very proud that we’re a club.”

After earning legitimacy, the ladies went on to win their first game as an official club on Oct. 24 when they routed Benedictine College by a score of 27-10. In that match, the club dominated 90 percent of the scrums they squared off in.

Even though they displayed excellence in this area, the ladies are still working hard to iron out other areas of gameplay before Saturday.

“We feel really confident about our forward game and are just wanting to solidify a lot of little things like ball handling skills and being able to communicate with each other better on the field,” hook, Rebecca Baugher, said. “We want to have that down before the game.”

Baugher pointed out that rugby is a game that requires playing in actual games to improve one’s skill. Heathcote fully understands this concept and is aiming to give everyone plenty of playing time against Arkansas.

“Win or lose, we just want to have a good time getting everyone experience through  playing,” he said. “That’s what we’re really pushing for. We’ll be competitive. I think that we can probably win, but our priority right now is just mainly to give the girls the  experience of playing in front of a community who has come along and supported them.”

While they are definitely excited to play at the University for the first time, the players expressed a degree of anxiousness in playing in front of people who know them well.

“We really want to play our best for JBU,” Hannah Malone, scrumhalf, said. “We know there’s going to be a lot of people there to support us, which is really amazing. It’s kind of scary, but we’re really excited.”

Heathcote has spoken with his team about these nerves they are feeling. He has assured them that they are first playing for Christ, who matters more than anyone in the stands.

“We’re playing to represent Christ first in all that we say and do,” Heathcote said. “I think that will help them deal with the pressure of peers watching them. Their priority is still playing for Christ and playing for Him first.”

Despite the nerves, the women’s rugby club is eager to affirm the support they have received.

“We really want people to come and see what women’s rugby is about,” Baugher said. “We’re really excited by the response we’ve had from the school, so we hope to see a lot of people there.”