The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Club Closeup: Womens Rugby

The rugby players cheering before they go on field. Photo taken by Trinity Rietmann.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Women’s Club Rugby Team finished up their spring season and took second place at the Iron Women Tournament in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on Saturday, April 21.

“We’ve had a pretty decent spring. It’s been better than most,” said Coach Richard Brewer (he/him), a UWL alumni. “There’s been a big improvement over the last few years, and each year it gets better.”

The team had a big win at the beginning of April, taking first place at Mudfest, and they were also the runners-up at the Conference Qualifiers.

During the spring season, the team plays tournaments of ‘7s’, referring to the seven players on the field for each team. In the fall, they will play ‘15s’, and usually only one game is played at a time since a ‘15s’ match consists of 40-minute halves.

Rugby is similar to American football, but rather than stopping the clock and resetting after each tackle, rugby is more of a continuous game. If a player is tackled, they place the ball on the ground where a teammate can come pick it up and continue to play. 

A player can also pass off the ball, but all passes in rugby must go backwards. Any forward movement of the ball is considered a knock-on, which can result in a scrum. 

In a 7s game, scrums consist of three players from each team driving against each other for possession of the ball. During the 15s matches, scrums are larger with eight players from each team pushing against each other.

The point of the game is to move the ball across the field and score a try, which is when the ball is placed in the try zone, similar to football’s end zone. Each try is worth five points. A conversion kick is attempted after the try for an additional two points, but the ball must be kicked in line with where it was touched down for the try.

Players can also attempt a drop goal by performing a drop kick during live play. This is worth three points, but is rare to see in a game. A penalty kick can also be awarded and is worth three points if successful.

Rugby is a popular sport overseas, but here in the United States, people are not as familiar with the game. Because of this, most of the girls on the team did not start playing rugby until college.

“Getting involved in rugby was just kind of a random, whimsical decision,” said Megan Gregory (she/her). “I was walking with some friends, and some people were tabling for rugby. We just decided to show up for a practice, and we never left.”

The story is similar for the team’s three coaches. Coaches Emma Malloy (she/her) and Mekaela Malloy (she/her) started their rugby journey on the UWL Women’s Rugby Team after seeing them at Recfest. 

Even Brewer, who has been coaching the Women’s Rugby Team for 46 years, didn’t start playing until his college years. 

Brewer reminisced about his first practice, saying, “I was going to quit after the first night because it was 90 degrees and humid, and I was dying from running around.”

However, after hanging out with the team after practice, Brewer decided to keep at it, and then he was hooked. Thanks to rugby’s tight-knit community, he now has friends all over the world, and he encourages everyone to get involved in the sport.

“Everybody should play rugby,” he said. “It’s an experience you never have in any other sport because other sports don’t have the camaraderie that rugby has.”

The UWL Women’s Rugby Team is no different. Friendships form between players, regardless of what team they’re on, but the bond between teammates is something special.

“I love our team this year! I feel like we’ve really gotten closer and bonded,” said Gregory. “We pick each other up, we support each other, and that’s really why we work so well as a team.”

Rachel Fuchs (she/her) talked about the team’s supportiveness on the field, describing how important it is to keep the ball moving by passing it out rather than trying to run with it yourself. “We don’t score for ourselves, we score for the team,” she said. 

The team spirit and camaraderie does not stop after the players leave the field. The team spends time together outside of practice, too, with girls hosting spaghetti dinners or movie nights for the team.

“We like to hang out a lot outside of practice,” said Britta Jones (she/her). “We like to go throw the ball around extra, and when we get to practice it’s always good vibes. We are always happy to be there.”

The team’s positive attitude is obvious to everyone, including the coaches.

“These girls have the best attitudes I have ever seen. We were doing sprints a couple weeks ago, and the girls were smiling through them. Smiling through sprints. I have never met a group of girls like that,” said Emma Malloy. “They can find the fun in anything, and they’re there to build each other up. They’re all so supportive.” 

Building up this team of women is what drives Emma Malloy to coach.

“I really want to build strong women,” she said. “What’s super interesting and what makes me passionate about rugby is that you can watch girls start their freshman year of college kind of meek, mild and nervous, and then by their senior year they’re outspoken and driven. It pushes women to be strong, to be aggressive.”

Rugby might be a physical sport, but that should not deter anyone from trying it out. Emma Malloy emphasized that anyone can play rugby, regardless of body type or fitness level. There is a position for everyone.

“It’s a super inclusive, supportive sport and community in general,” Mekaela Malloy said. “Everyone is welcome to come, and you’re part of the rugby family if you play one game or you play for ten years.”

If you are interested in joining the team, you can reach out to the Women’s Rugby Team on Instagram @uwlwomensrugby. Practices are from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays with games on Saturdays.

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About the Contributor
Trinity Rietmann
Trinity Rietmann, Photojournalist
  • Year at UWL: Junior
  • PGPs: she/her/hers
  • Hometown: Baraboo
  • Major: Art Education
  • Minor: Photography and Recreation Management
  • Other Campus Involvement: Women's Rugby Team
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Become an art teacher
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Hiking at the Bluffs
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  • K

    Katherine DanielsApr 25, 2024 at 11:42 am

    Wonderful group of women and dedicated coaches!