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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Life + Arts

Women’s rugby team forms at UH

Several coaches and players are hoping to amplify the prominence of rugby at UH.

In the past seven weeks, the UH women’s rugby team has recruited seven players and hosted the two-day Women’s Division II Club National Championships, held Nov. 7 and 8.

‘We’ve got a school of about 40,000 people, and one of the problems out here with men and women’s rugby is lack of exposure and publicity,’ coach Mark Spear said. ‘You’re holding the USA Division II Championship in your backyard and people drive by and have no idea what they’re watching. To have such a prestigious event for the ladies and men of this rugby club ‘hellip; is a major undertaking. There’s a lot of be proud of right there.’

It all started seven weeks ago when a hotel and restaurant management junior decided that she wanted to find out if girls could play rugby.

‘I went to and searched for rugby, and I came to (the UH Rugby Football Club) Web site and e-mailed them. I said, ‘I don’t know if girls can play, and I’m out of shape anyways, but can I come out there?” Nicholoe Sellers said. ‘So I came out and practiced with the guys, and it was kind of crazy.’

After that, Sellers got her roommate to go with her. Another member heard about the club and brought her friend.

More people started to come out as word spread. Most of the members are beginners at rugby but enjoy learning and playing the game.

‘We have really good coaches that help us. We practice our drills and we practice the rules, but it’s a learning experience for everybody,’ Patty Miller said.

Although Miller participated in other sports before, she said students don’t need to be athletic to try out.

‘It empowers women when they come out,’ coach Pete Evans said. ‘There’s a lot of camaraderie and fellowship that goes on in the game. You stick together as a group; it’s like a fraternity at the end of the day. And of course, rugby is just a really fun game to play in terms of what it makes you do, like thinking on your feet (and) making decisions for yourself.’

To Spear, who is in his sixth decade of coaching rugby, no group is as dedicated and has as much heart and spirit as the women who come to the intramural fields for practice.

‘We want to find some women that are going to want to come out and play,’ Spear said. ‘I’m interested in people that want to be the first at their university and leave their legacy of a women’s program. I want these women to set the tone for the years and decades to come.’

As the women of the UH rugby team have proved, rugby is not just for men. The core of nine women practices Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m.

The team is passionate about rugby and is trying to spread word of the newly formed intramural sport. The woman who started it all gives a piece of advice to those interested in joining this fast-paced game.

‘Don’t be intimidated by rugby, because we’re all ‘hellip; learning,’ Sellers said. ‘None of us are rugby experts or very experienced, so we all help each other. The coaches and the guys and all of us are very receptive to questions.’

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