Girls on campus wearing rugby jerseys may be making more than just a fashion statement. They may be members of the University’s first women’s rugby club team, which was approved this year.
The team — which has around 50 members — aims to start practices by the end of the month and play games by next semester, sophomore Christina Koney, the co-founder of the team, said.
Women’s rugby is played exactly by the same rules as the men’s team, Konkey said.
“It’s a very intense contact sport,” Konkey said. “But it’s definitely not as violent as it looks.”
Konkey said rugby can be described with two oxymoronic phrases — “elegant violence” and “organized chaos.”
“To the untrained eye, it looks absolutely chaotic and it looks absolutely violent,” she said. “But when you learn how to play, when you watch from that perspective, you see the structure and the organization and it’s just a beautiful game to watch.”
Konkey said she enjoys the social aspect and team bonding.
“My favorite part, personally, is rugby has a tradition of being a very social sport, just all the tradition that surrounds it,” she said. “It’s very much in line with Notre Dame’s ideals of tradition and family. Your team really does become your pseudo family.”
According to Konkey, nothing can compare to the team unity found in rugby.
“I’ve never been involved in such a team oriented sport. I mean I played soccer. I played basketball,” she said. “But when it comes to rugby, you use every single person on that field. There really can’t be one all-star.”
Rugby players also bond with their competition. After every game, both teams eat a meal together and socialize.
“You walk of that field where you just pummeled each other into the ground and you go and eat pizza and you meet the girls from the other team,” Konkey said. “There’s almost no hostility.”
But the club team will be more than simply a social team. They will be competitive, she said.
Although the team cannot play games this semester because it is too late to participate, Konkey said she hopes the team will at least play exhibitions games with teams from around the midwest by next semester.
Konkey said she is hopeful that the Notre Dame team will be successful because rugby requires intelligence.
“It’s an intelligent person’s game. You need to be able to think quickly,” she said. “That’s also another reason why I’m really excited to have a Notre Dame team. We’re just going to have such a high quality of player to work with because we have really athletic girls, but we also have really intelligent girls,” Konkey said.
Konkey said she didn’t understand why people love rugby until she played.
“All my friends were so crazy about rugby and they were like, wait until your first game, just wait until you play,” she said. “I was like, I don’t think I’m ever going to be as crazy as you guys. And then, I’m telling you, within two minutes of my first game, my mind was blown. I was like where was this sport my entire life?”
Konkey said experiencing the sport is the only way to truly understand its appeal.
“It’s one of those things where you have to play to even be able to try and understand what I’m trying to say,” Konkey said. “You cannot put it into words why. It’s a really bizarre thing, but I’ve come across it time and time again.”
Konkey also said girls who wish to play do not necessarily have to be big and strong.
“That’s another huge misconception that people have. In that way, it’s very similar to football in that there’s all different sized people and they fulfill different positions and they fulfill different requirements for the team,” she said.
Konkey encouraged anyone who is interested in the sport to give it a shot.
“Don’t let your fear hold you back,” she said. “Give it a shot and stick with it through to your first game. Because once you get on that pitch you’re never going to want to leave.”