By Allison Schoenauer
Elm Staff Writer
Twice a week, for any length of time between a half-hour and an hour-and -a-half, any readers can find my happy self over at Shriver Field. Shriver Field, for those who don’t know, is a playing field that sits behind the softball fields and adjacent to Kent Crossing. There you will find me and my fellow rugby players as we practice (or attempt to practice) passing, running, lines, rucks, scrumming, tackling, and yelling. There is a lot of yelling—sometimes for no reason at all.
And if you find that our little team seems a little, well, little, that’s a problem that has the few and the dedicated scratching their heads.
The Women’s Club Rugby team technically meets the required 15 people, but half of the signed-up members don’t actually show up, often because of classes and work, leaving about seven or eight players who show up at almost every practice. This is mirrored in our games. Very few games actually have us filling all 15 positions on the field, normally because of prior engagements and injuries.
The nearby fields- the softball field and generic green space normally occupied by women’s lacrosse and/or women’s field hockey teams- are often active with varsity teams practicing and doing much the same thing with the same amount of dedication and more than double the amount of players than what we have on our little field. I would never say it’s embarrassing, but it is sometimes disheartening to see the disparity between teams.
The levels of commitment and the feeling that there needs to be commitment seem to be polar opposites between women’s club sports and women’s varsity sports. I’m specifying the women’s sports because club sports that involve men seem to have larger, more consistent memberships (on Thursday afternoons between 4:30-6 p.m., you can see a full demonstration, because Men’s Club Rugby and Women’s Club Rugby practice at the same time and on the same field that day). So what gives?
Sometimes, I feel like the only difference between the varsity teams and the club teams is the amount of support the different teams get from the school. Both club and varsity have dedicated players who do work hard and who do care about whether their respective team is successful or not; it’s always a good night after we actually win a game—if we understand what’s going on enough to know we’ve won a game.
Both teams suffer the same consequences if the players don’t stand up and fulfill their commitment to their teams; if our neighbors, women’s softball, don’t have enough people coming to practice and showing up for their games, they can’t play games. In theory, the same thing happens to women’s rugby, but that never seems to happen. Instead, we go play the game, it just becomes a scrimmage, friendly pick-up game, or we borrow players from the other team, if they have some to spare. Players on both teams have to worry about getting injured and missing out on the rest of their season, which is what happened to me last semester. (Fun fact: the men’s team suffered far more in-game and in-practice injuries than the women. They were losing players for the season at one or two each game. Last semester, only four of the girls were injured in ways that took them out for the entire season.)
This article isn’t meant to diminish the importance of varsity sports. It just doesn’t seem fair that teams that have less support from the school aren’t treated with the same respect and commitment from their players as their varsity counterparts.