Women’s club rugby team increases competition, campus presence
Abigail Piper | Friday, January 23, 2015
Although varsity sports are a big aspect of the Notre Dame experience, club sports also have a large impact at the University. The Notre Dame Women’s Rugby Football Club, which is growing both in numbers and competitively on campus, is one example.
“We’re a Division I club sport [in the Midwest Rugby Union] and we play in the Big Ten,” senior Colleen Tigani, president of the club, said. “We usually play local teams like Michigan or Michigan State, but then we also travel to Penn State and Ohio State. We are a very competitive club. We have regular practices twice a week, meetings as well, run-throughs on Friday and games on weekends.”
Senior Claire Kozlowski, the team’s field captain, said they originally played only a version of rugby that had fifteen-member teams, but it added a team of seven in order to go to Philadelphia for the Collegiate Rugby Championship this May.
“This is our first year starting a sevens team, which is actually the type of rugby that is going to be in the Olympics in 2016,” she said.
Kozlowski said the team aspect of rugby is what motivated her initially to join the club.
“When I was a freshman one of the upperclassmen in my dorm, who I played flag football with … was like, ‘You should come play rugby.’ and I said, ‘No thank you, I don’t want to die.’” Kozlowski said. “I went to a practice and never played rugby in my life … but fell in love, and everybody was super encouraging [and] super welcoming, and that’s how it has been the past four years.”
Tigani said the team, which also includes Saint Mary’s students, has improved her entire experience at Notre Dame.
“For me right now, it’s kind of like a second family.” she said. “You run into girls on the team outside of practice, and it’s like, ‘Oh I know you!’ And it’s weird to explain, but it’s kind of like you always have a person on the team that’s going to be there for you in your classes or outside of sports, then you also have that bond of coming together and playing as a team.”
Kozlowski said rugby teams have a camaraderie that makes the sport less intimidating than it seems.
“Rugby is one of those games that unless you play it it’s really hard to explain,” she said. “Literally every single moment, you lay your body out on the line for your teammate … and you know that your teammate is doing the same thing for you.”
Tigani said the team will host events this semester in order to fundraise, including Breakfast Bingo on Friday at 10 p.m. in LaFortune Ballroom.
“There will be breakfast food, and there’s going to be a bingo tournament and different style bingo games and prizes,” Tigani said. “But I think our biggest event will be the weekend of April 12, our Charity Day. We do pink jerseys and pink socks, and we raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. It’s actually going to be paired with our alumni game this year, so some friendly faces will be back to play us.”
Looking forward, Kozlowski said she would like to see an increase in membership.
“The less they know about rugby the better, we like to say,” she said. “We really like to teach people. That’s how every single one of us started.”
Tigani said she encourages those interested in joining women’s club rugby to email her at [email protected].