Girl’s Rugby Team prospers despite gender stereotypes



Since it’s founding in 2020, the Girls Rugby Team has beat the odds and won many of their games. Players attest to the comradery present on the team, and it’s mutual uplifting as reasons for their success.

When the word, “rugby player” comes to mind, many envision a tall and aggressive man who loves the violence of a contact sport. However, this stereotypical figure does not match the reality for many athletes in the sport, namely the girls rugby team started in 2020. This team challenges the heavily gendered image associated with their sport and excels while doing so.

The girls rugby team was founded in 2020. The team has worked hard to break boundaries in a male-dominated sport. According to their coach, Eric Person, the team has had a strong performance in their first season.

“They won the very first game they had last year 30-0 and they looked like they had played the game before,” Person said.

Person said his goal for this season is to expand girls’ rugby and said he hopes his team will continue to excel. He said that there are a lot of misconceptions about the difficulty of girls rugby versus boys rugby.

“The mission is to grow girls rugby and show them that they can do it. I think that the issue with women’s sports a lot of the time is that they compare it to men, but they play the same game the men do. They don’t modify the rules for them, they play the same exact game,” Person said.

Captain and senior Rosie O’Farrell has been on the team since she began her sophomore year. She said inclusivity is a big emphasis on the team.

“It doesn’t matter your body type or your past experience in sports. You don’t have to be that athletic of a person. I did soccer up until eighth grade and then I didn’t really do a sport freshman year, but sophomore year I could just jump in. I had never played rugby before,” O’Farrell said. “There’s just so many different positions for people. You have forwards who are bigger people, stronger, who don’t do as much running, but you do a lot of heavy lifting. Then you have your backs who do a lot of running and agility and it’s a strategy thing. You just have so many different characters on the team.”

Person said being on the team helps the girls to grow as people on and off the field. He also said there is a strong sense of community on the team.

“They kind of mature together. They really lean on each other. Last year it was very much a family atmosphere. You learn to rely on other people, and you also learn to take responsibility for yourself as well,” Person said.

O’Farrell said playing rugby not only helps the girls to mature, the sport is something that they can take with them to college. Despite this, O’Farrell said there is still a stigma around girls rugby.

“I think you just notice a lot more guys show up for rugby. It’s a really ‘manly’ sport, but as I said before, a lot of really great women play. We just need to bring a lot more attention to that, especially in college. College women’s rugby is so big. It can take you so far, and I don’t think people fully know that yet,” O’Farrell said.

Captain and junior Zoe Raybould said the perception of women and girls rugby as less aggressive or competitive is a false narrative.

“Today, a lot of women are perceived as being fragile, delicate, not able to do things like a contact sport, but I think it really shows other women that they are actually able to do all of these things. They’re able to get dirty and tackle people,” Raybould said.

O’Farrell said though the sport is contact-heavy, there is a lot much more to rugby than the aggressive side of it. She said the reputation of the sport being dangerous leads to misconceptions about women and girls’ ability to participate.

“Rugby has a reputation to be pretty aggressive and people get hurt a lot, so there’s a lot of bias towards women not doing it, but that’s not true. It’s such a universal sport. There’s so much agility and strategy to it. It’s not just running into people,” O’Farrell said.

Person said rugby is a particularly inclusive sport in which anyone can participate.

“It’s one of those sports where anybody can play. You have short people, you have tall people, you have fast people, you have slow people, but everybody has a role. Everybody has a job, and everybody’s job is extremely important. It’s not just about who scores, it’s about what happens before that,” Person said.

Despite rugby’s inclusivity, O’Farrell said the bias against girls playing the sport affects team members to this day. She said that the stigma around girls’ rugby is so strong that she didn’t sign up her freshman year.

“A contact sport turns a lot of girls away. That’s what happened to me at first. When I was a freshman, I remember walking through the club fair and seeing a bunch of senior guys with a rugby ball, and I wanted to sign up, but I was nervous, so I didn’t,” O’Farrell said. “Sophomore year I decided to try out because I knew there was a girl’s team. Even a few weeks ago, we had a new girl come out to touch the other day, and she was so nervous because there were so many guys there, and it’s just something you have to get used to.”

Raybould said the team is empowering to the girls who participate.

“People were nervous to join a contact sport with tackling and all that. I saw that they found themselves throughout the season and they developed more confidence. They could play a rugby game. They could play this sport. It also translates. On a day-to-day basis, they’re more confident and sure of themselves which is really wonderful,” Raybould said.

Ultimately, Raybould said her goal is to inspire a new generation of girl rugby players despite the stereotypes these female athletes may be used to.

“I envision having little freshman girls seeing the rugby team as something that they could do. Rugby, similar to football, seems like a ‘man’s world,’ but we’re opening that up to young women,” Raybould said. “ I just hope it empowers more people.”