Ruckin’ and Rollin’ With the Women’s Rugby Club
By: Latham Childress ’19 communications
Saturday nights at Method Road Fields are anything but calm. The whole block is illuminated by bright lights that shine on the field. The bleachers are squeaking from the roaring crowd of fans jumping up and down while screaming cheers. You may be wondering, what is all of this excitement for?
The excitement is for the Women’s Rugby Club at NC State.
The Women’s Rugby Club at NC State was founded in 1994, and since then, have captured victories and formed numerous friendships along the way. Through all of the rucks, mauls and Garryowens–popular rugby plays– that the women have been through, they have created a unique bond that has allowed them to shine across campus.
Guste Rubikaite, a senior on the team, majoring in electrical engineering, played soccer before coming to NC State and did not know anything about rugby. She learned about the team while at Carmichael Gym’s indoor climbing wall during her freshman orientation. The girl climbing next to her was a member of the club and convinced her to join. “I was always really aggressive in soccer, so as soon she said the sport was full contact I was 100 percent in,” said Rubikaite.
Since there are few opportunities to participate and learn about rugby before coming to college, the team works hard at the beginning of each year to educate new students about the sport. They have created a big presence on campus, using social media and promoting at events such as RecFest to help spread their word.
The team hold practices twice a week focusing on strategy and perfecting plays. On Wednesdays, the team holds a supplementary practice where they perform drills and work on conditioning. The season lasts all year, with games held every other Saturday.
In addition to practices and games, the team loves to spend time with each other off of the field. Before games, the team will get together to have nutritious meals that will give them energy to last through a game. Win or lose, the team continues to spend time together after the game.
Even when it’s not a game day the bonding continues,, whether it be exercising, dining or doing homework together. “I study with my rugby friends, and I met my current roommate through rugby,” said Rubikaite. The team is also close with the teams that they compete against. “If we have a home game, we always invite the visiting team to come over and hang out afterward,” Rubikaite said,
Although the popularity of women’s rugby has grown exponentially in the past few years, unfortunately there are still various stereotypes and misconceptions associated with the sport. One being that all women’s rugby players are “big” and “bulky.” “The majority of the people we ask to play rugby will say, ‘Oh, I’m not big enough’ or ‘I’m not strong enough,’” Rubikaite said. She explains that body size is never a limitation when it comes to rugby, and there are positions for all sizes.
Also, many still view rugby predominantly as a men’s sport. “When I tell people that I play rugby, they will say, ‘Are you sure? You’re a girl.’ But I always respond by saying that girls can do anything men can do.” said Rubikaite.
Rubikaite also explained just how much of an impact rugby has had on her time at NC State. “They say, ‘Rugby is for life.’ I am close with the people I started with my freshmen year as well as those who are starting now. Our rugby family is very important to us, so we are always there for each other.”
When asked what advice she would give to someone who is interested in rugby, Rubikaite answered, “I would say come out and give it a try. We welcome new players year-round.”