Not just for men

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Rugby is a physical and rough sport, usually associated with testosterone and a multitude of injuries. By no means is it a man’s sport, though.

For several years, the K-State Women’s Rugby Club has interested women of nearly every academic concentration.

“We’re rough and tough, and we hurt people,” said Alicia Gettel, senior in animal science and industry.

She said rugby is a great way to alleviate aggression and stress, and it is a good way to get in shape.

“You don’t have to be thin and athletic to play,” Gettel said. “Some girls that could not play basketball or volleyball in high school excel in this sport.”

Caitlin James, senior in animal science and industry, said about 20 women play each week for the team, with up to 15 on the field at a time.

Although each woman has a different story for how she became involved, all of the players who take the field for practice every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are there because they love the game.

“I have met so many friends through rugby, and it has helped me to broaden my horizons and try things that I never thought I would have tried,” Alicia Thiessen, junior in agribusiness, said.

She said the atmosphere at practices is social and laid back, but during games, players get serious. The team is part of the Heart of America Rugby Football Union, which includes teams from Oklahoma State, Missouri, Kansas and other area teams.

James said only one player on the team had previous playing experience before joining the team, and less than half of the team returned from last semester’s squad. Several players had never played the game and didn’t even know the rules before they signed on to play.

“We are a really young team,” James said. “Not only are we learning to play with each other, but also learning to play the game.

“We know this is a rebuilding year, but next semester will be better.”

The team, which also plays during the spring, hopes to increase in size and recover from multiple injuries. James said several players have suffered serious injuries, including three knee injuries, a broken collar bone, a dislocated shoulder and several minor injuries.

“When you play a sport that involves the physical contact that rugby does, there are always going to be some bumps and bruises,” Thiessen said.

Players said the absence of healthy bodies has hindered the development of the team.

At a recent tournament in Denton, Texas, only 11 players traveled with the team. One player separated a shoulder at the beginning of the first game, and the team was forced to play five players short for most of the tournament.

This has not halted the season, though.

“Rugby is so different than every other sport in America that you fall in love with it,” James said. “You just have to keep playing.”

That is just what the team will do. Even after losing to Missouri 51-0 on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, James said she is optimistic for the future.

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