Did you know Springfield had a women’s rugby program? Now you do!
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Using an oval-shaped ball, the sport of rugby is somewhat like football, except players don’t wear protective padding, and you’re only allowed to toss the ball backward, not forwards.
And it’s been around since the 1800′s.
“It’s played all around the world,” said Springfield Rugby member Daniel Jester. “And everybody says it’s what they play in heaven.”
But much like football, rugby has mainly been considered a man’s sport because of its violent physicality.
“Actually, in the very beginning of rugby, women weren’t allowed to play it openly,” said Katie Scott, the founder of the Springfield Women’s Rugby program. “But for the most part, everybody’s coming around, and they love the family aspect of it.”
So after having a men’s team in Springfield since 1983, Scott led the organizing of the Queen City Chaos women’s program that now has around 60 members.
“A lot of people had a little fear of the unknown,” Scott said. “But once they get out here and have so much fun, they get bit by the rugby bug and love it.”
Lilly Hertzog is a Drury student on the Chaos and Drury’s inaugural club team this year (there’s also high school-aged rugby now). Initially worried about getting injured herself, Hertzog ended up putting the hurt on somebody else.
“I didn’t realize my own strength,” Hertzog recalled. “I grabbed a leg and pushed her back like 10 feet, and she fell flat on her back. It makes you feel good about yourself.”
And as a pre-med major, if she ever does get injured, she knows someone.
“I can treat myself,” she said with a laugh.
Isabelle Trippe does consulting work for utility companies. She has been on the Chaos for four years. She’s small in stature but is not deterred even after breaking her collarbone early in her rugby career.
“I get called tiny but mighty,” she said with a smile. “Somebody my size being able to put someone else down in the dirt is addicting!”
Lauren Holiday is a 34-year-old mother-of-two who was asked what she would say to those who think rugby is too rough a sport for women.
“I disagree,” she said. “A lot of us are moms, and that’s a lot of pain you have to endure having kids. I’m actually the first girl on the team to get a yellow card. I laid a chick out. I clotheslined her. I think girls are just as equal as guys when it comes to rugby.”
All the players we talked to at a recent tournament pointed to two main factors they love about the sport, a sense of camaraderie and a chance to let off some steam.
“This is my escape from the real world,” Trippe said.
“There are not very many physical full-contact sports for women,” Scott pointed out. “So when they have the opportunity to come out here and really play a sport like this, most women thrive because they’ve never been allowed to be aggressive.”
“I grew up on a farm and always done physical labor, but it was never respected there,” Hertzog said. “Then to come here to a place where physicality and being aggressive was a good thing has brought me a lot of confidence in myself.”
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