Women's rugby making strides
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 02:10
The vast majority of Oregon State University’s student body probably is not aware there is a women’s rugby club team here, let alone how the sport of rugby is played.
Apathy is the biggest problem when it comes to the OSU rugby team and how much they want the roster and the sport itself to grow.
However, progress has been made. Senior Hannah Lockwood, who is majoring in speech communication, said when she came to OSU her freshman year, she was the only player on the team who had played rugby prior to joining the club.
Now in her fourth year, the landscape of the team looks much different.
“My freshman year I was the only girl, I think, that [had] ever played rugby in high school that has come to Oregon State to play rugby,” Lockwood said. “This year, I think we have eight to 10 freshmen who have played rugby before coming to our program.”
“It was almost unheard of for any girls to come from high school with any rugby experience,” said head coach David Dickson, who also works for OSU as an academic advisor in the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. “This year I think I’ve got 10 or 11 that have played rugby in high school, and not only for a year, but for two or three years. Some of them are actually pretty good players already.”
The team is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation in All-7s, which is seven on each team and is the style of play that will be used in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. They also took home a tournament win this past weekend in Corvallis.
OSU went 4-0 in the tournament, defeating No. 5 Cal twice, including a close 17-14 finish in the championship. The tournament also featured the University of Oregon and Willamette University.
“It was really intense until the last minute, so it was kind of a cool game,” Lockwood said. “It was very much back-and-forth the whole time. They scored first and then we answered back right away.”
The tournament win all but locks up a qualifying spot for All-7s Nationals for the team.
“I feel really good about our chances if we are successful in getting a berth in the national tournament, which I’m pretty confident we will,” Dickson said. “Having won this tournament this past weekend, I’m confident that we’ll do well when we head down to Stanford [for their Tournament on Nov. 10]. I’m not going to make any overambitious predictions about winning, but I’m confident that we’ll be competitive.”
On top of the qualifying spot the team earned, it was also a game they desperately wanted to win: Cal was the team that eliminated the Beavers from nationals one year ago.
“We’ve had a lot of time to think about the fact that we lost to them,” Lockwood said. “So we really wanted to come out hard, and knew we had to come out hard to build that confidence.”
Although there has been a significant upswing in both support and quality of players for the team, there is still a ton of room for growth.
“I think we need a couple more years,” Dickson said. “We need some consistency. Two or three solid classes of incoming players that have had some high school experience and we’ll get somewhere. If we stay on the same trajectory, we’ll get somewhere.”
The biggest part about seeing the program become more legitimate is finding a steadier way to fund the team, especially for travel.
“Last year was the first time we had to raise a significant amount of money in a short period of time for nationals since I’ve been here,” Lockwood said. “We had to raise $10,000. We did a lot of outreach in the community.”
As expectations are raised because of the quality of the team, the need for more support and funding increases tremendously with their aspirations to travel to nationals and other tournaments.
“Since we are a club sport, we do get some funding from the university, but it’s obviously not as much as a varsity program,” Lockwood said. “They help us cover some of our traveling costs, but all of our national travel, we have to cover on our own, which is thousands and thousands of dollars because you have to fly people across the country.”
The women’s rugby team plays again the following two weekends in Corvallis at Student Legacy Park across from Dixon Rec.
They play against the High School All-Stars on Oct. 6, which is a developmental game for the younger players. On Oct. 13, Oregon State hosts a tournament including Oregon and Willamette, among other teams.
To learn more about the OSU women’s rugby team, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warner Strausbaugh, sports editor