If the women”s rugby club finds an injured teammate on the field, they follow one guideline: bring them water.

In a club sport where concussions are referred to as a “common occurrence” and on-site medical trainers do not exist, no one questions this team”s toughness.

The Michigan women”s rugby club has already scrummed its way through its fall season and now awaits the start of the spring season. This past season, with a relatively young team, the Wolverines just failed to make it out of districts. But the members of the team treated their finish as a success with the amount of new players they”ve attracted to the field.

In a physically exhausting “men”s” sport where aggression and injuries run high, recruiting enough players for the season can often be a challenge in itself.

“A lot of girls think about it and don”t want to get hit or don”t want to get hurt,” club president Lindsey Vastola said. “But once you play your first game you stick with it.”

Along with youth, the team is also dealing with a significant lack of size. The women often find themselves competing against opposition as tall as 5-foot-8 with a 200-pound build, whereas the average weight on their team is around 160 pounds and the tallest girl tops out at 5-foot-7.

The challenge the team faces against the difference in these numbers often serves as another source of motivation.

“When you have six-foot girls coming at you and you tackle them and hear them hit the ground, it”s a great rush of adrenaline,” Vastola said.

When opposing forces this large come face to face, injuries are bound to occur. Vastola herself has played with two broken ribs and a bad case of asthma. It is this passion for the sport that will often drive the players to play through their injuries.

Senior Sarah Price played with one of the more serious injuries the team can remember in recent history. She was involved in a play where a tackle on an opposing player led to a head-on collision. Both ended up with large gashes in the head.

“I actually didn”t realize I”d split my head open,” Price said. “I just thought I”d knocked the wind out of myself. I was lying on the ground just trying to catch my breath.”

Price required eight stitches in her head and was actually back on the field for the next game.

“I just put a bunch of gauze around my head,” Price said. “I looked like I”d been to war with a huge head wound but I played and it was fine.”

Even after watching their teammates succumb to the physical prices of the game, very few are willing to step off the field when they know they should. Whatever it is that drives them to play through the pain, they believe it is a cathartic relief.

“It”s such an adrenaline rush,” Vastola said. “Basically rugby for me is a way to get all my aggression and anger out legally.”

This apparent reduction in stress is a realization all rugby players reach at some point. It is probably one of the bonds that brings them together as friends and not enemies from different sides of the field when each game ends.

“Someone described to me once that on the field it”s war,” Price said. “But afterwards you get off the field and you party with your opponents. It”s tradition for the home team to host a party for the visiting team after each game.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.