Thursday night, 11:30 p.m. As most of Ann Arbor starts to head
toward the bars, members of the women’s rugby team begin to
trickle into practice at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. The team practices
four nights a week, with all of its practices beginning late at
night. Currently the players are focusing on athleticism, speed,
and agility under the direction of their coach Jamie Frech, a
member of the 1998 Michigan Women’s Rugby Football Club.
Frech enjoys coaching the team she once played for.
“I can’t get away from rugby,” Frech said.
“It’s the greatest sport, and it offers a different
community than other sports, in which you can really bond with
In practice, the team works on 8-on-8 scrimmages, passing drills
and tackling skills, according to junior Laura Wolfe. Frech also
added that they break the game into components and then put them
all together in scrimmages.
“We have a 50/50 breakup between experienced players and
rookies,” Frech said. “But the rookies have very good
athletic talent, and many have come from other sports, such as
“We have no major injuries, just a bunch of people with
sprains,” captain Kelly Swarts added.
The team plays in a lot of tournaments during the winter
semester, with upcoming tournaments in Nashville, Washington and
Virginia. As many as 50 teams participate at each event.
“Because there is no end-of-the-season championship, each
tournament is like a championship for us,” Frech said.
Michigan competes in the Midwest division, which includes
Michigan State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Northern
Michigan, and Marquette.
Last weekend in Kalamazoo, the Wolverines won the 10th annual
Sno-ball Tournament, in which teams from as far as Iowa came to
participate. This was their second championship in the past three
years at this tournament. In the final game of the championship,
Michigan defeated Michigan State in double overtime. This was its
second win over the Spartans in the tournament. The win was
especially rewarding because of an earlier, regular-season loss to
Michigan State. Frech felt that Rebecca Wines was the best
performer in the tournament, as she scored the winning try that
beat Michigan State in double overtime.
The playing conditions were very difficult as “there was a
foot of snow on the ground,” according to captain Yee
Besides playing rugby, the team is involved in other activities.
Players have volunteered their time to teach middle school girls to
play rugby, and also look to get involved with a Habitat for
Humanity project. To get pumped up for games, they sing
“Saturday is Rugby Day” and also have team dinners the
night before the game. Because rugby is not a varsity sport, the
players also spend a lot of time and effort fundraising. When
fundraising isn’t enough, each member pays dues. The team
also gets funding from RecSports and the Michigan Student Assembly
to cover travel and lodging expenses for its tournaments.
Currently there are 30 members, but players can join at any time
during the season.