By: Alexis Mitchell
From watching rugby on the sidelines, it looks like there is a lot going on because, well, there is. There is a lot of tackling, passes, and running, but what you do not see is the exceptional amount of team work that is taking place.
The UF women’s rugby team started out with some struggles since they lost a lot of seniors last year, they were not sure how the team would play out. Despite this hurdle, the team is starting out the season successfully scoring 2-0 and coming out with over a 30-point lead in both games.
“Our rookies have caught on so incredibly quickly, it’s just really awesome,” said Larissa Herbert, vice president of the women’s rugby team. “Usually there’s a good chunk of learning time but the rookies are so aggressive and eager to learn. That attitude is really good for the whole team.”
When Jim Haughn, the team’s Head Coach, was asked about goals at the beginning of the season, the answer was not to up their pass to success ratio or even for the girls to win, his goal was to help the girls feel empowered.
“My goal number one is to give these girls the foundation and the ability to make good rugby decisions,” said Haughn. “But in the long term, rugby is what we do but the life lessons and the long-term lessons are what I’m shooting for.”
From a player’s perspective, Herbert said that out of all the team sports she has played on, the UF women’s rugby team is by far the most competitive and eager to win. Ashley Hoy, the senior team captain, agrees with this statement and is hoping to be state champs, just as they were a couple years ago.
The team work mentioned previously is a very important aspect to the game of rugby. There are 15 players on a field and in order for them to be successful they all have to be on the same page.
“Getting them to do that and adding the physical pressures like you run five miles a match, the mental aspect, and you try to achieve this unified one goal, it is not easy to do.” said Haughn. “You can’t achieve that with out this sort of chemistry the team has.”
As for the rest of the season, the girls will continue to work hard and keep that team spirit thriving.
“Especially since our first game, we learned to work collaboratively, communicate, and work really well together,” said Hoy.
UF women’s rugby team is a big group of diverse young women coming together for one passion and sport.
“One thing I want young women on this campus to know is that it’s a tremendously empowering sport, and it gives you the opportunity at leadership and decision making you might not have in a team sport somewhere else,” said Haughn. “And it gives you the opportunity to push yourself to your very limit.”
If anyone wants to see the women’s rugby team in action, head over to watch them play and show your Oiler support at Kramer field every Saturday at 11 a.m.