K-State women gain companionship through tough sport of rugby


       The K-State Women’s Rugby team includes players of all physical variations. Some are tall, others are short. Some are thin, others are muscular. Despite the variance in appearance, however, all of the players have one strong, uniting factor: love for the game of rugby.
        “People, when they hear rugby, they think you have to be really strong and muscular. You don’t have to be this big, strong girl to be able to play rugby,” Rachel Thiher said, rugby president and sophomore in animal sciences and industry. “There are positions and a place for everyone on the team.”
        Chris Sorenson, rugby adviser, said the members of the women’s team are completely self-motivated and self-sufficient. He said his job only requires him to sign necessary paperwork and the women do the rest.
        “They don’t really need me. They run themselves, which is a good thing,” Sorenson said. “The women we’ve had the last few years are outstanding leaders. They’ve kept the team together.”
        Thiher said she joined because her mother is from Australia, where rugby is a common sport. She said she stayed, however, for the team.
        “I like that it’s such a team sport,” Thiher said. “You can’t do it by yourself. I just love hanging out with the girls. It’s a fun group, a fun game and we have fun on and off the field together.”
         After both home and away games, the hosting team has a social for all competitors to attend.
        “Both teams will socialize, joke around and play games,” she said. “Off the field, you’re friends with people on other teams. It’s a very social group, as well as athletic.”
        Thiher described rugby as a combination of football without pads and soccer. There are 15 players from each team on the field at all times, and each player is given a specific job to create a scoring play.
        Alicia Thiessen, sophomore in business administration, said she has been playing rugby for three and a half years. She said she joined the K-State team after attending practice with a friend and getting hooked.
        “I play because I enjoy the game and the friendships with my teammates and other teams,” Thiessen said. “When things are going our way and we’re doing things correctly, it’s amazing. I’ve caught myself getting too excited a few times and missed my assignment, so I try not to think about it till a break [in the game].”
        The team is currently in the process of recruiting new members.
        “It’s a rough sport and a lot of women don’t want to play that type of sport,” Sorenson said. “If you compare rugby to any other sport where women excel, you don’t see that kind of physical contact.”
        Thiher said right now there are 16 members, but she hopes to attain more.
        “I would just encourage people to not be intimidated by it. There’s a position for everyone on the team and you can only get better,” Thiher said. “A lot of our members when they come to K-State or our team, they’ve never played before. We break it down to the basics and really take time to teach you about the sport.”
        Lined up side-by-side, no one would guess that these varying women were the women of K-State rugby. They unite, however, to be the best they can be – both on and off the field.
        “It helped me to meet new people that were looking for the same thing I was,” Thiher said. “The camaraderie and companionship I have with others on the team [keeps me going]. I can tell them anything and they’re not going to make judgments on that.”