By Brandon Angel
Daily Titan Staff Writer
Womenâ€™s rugby at Cal State Fullerton is returning for the first time in 21 years.
Recruitment has been difficult, said club president Vanessa KellyÂ and marketing and fundraising coordinator Randy Odhiambo, who spearheaded the effort of bringing back womenâ€™s rugby to CSUF for the first time since 1988.
According to Kelly, a huge problem is that most women on campus are unaware that there is a womenâ€™s rugby club being formed.
â€œI work out at the Student Fitness Center and ask other women if they would be interested in playing rugby on campus,” Kelly said. “Most of the time I get a surprised look, and a look of ‘women play rugby here at CSUF?’â€
Rugby has been a sport played by men up until the 1970s.Â A U.S. Womenâ€™s National team was formed in 1987, so the sport is relatively new to women in the U.S.Â The stereotype that only men play rugby has been part of the reason why it has been difficult for Kelly to get more women to come out and play.
Another reason why women refuse to play is because rugby is a physical game. In rugby there are no pads, unlike in American football. Kelly insists that although rugby is a physical game, it is an intelligent, skilled and technical game.
â€œA lot women are afraid to play because men play the sport,” Kelly said. “When the girls see no pads they go running in the opposite direction, but I believe that itâ€™s cool and refreshing to see a girl get hit and roll around and get down and dirty in the dirt without a skirt.”
Freshman Marin Jensen, a fellow rugby club member, just wants women on campus to give it a shot and look past the stereotype that it is a manâ€™s game.
â€œMy mom hasnâ€™t exactly come around to me playing rugby,” Jensen said. “But my dad on the other hand, told me to go for it. He said ‘if something happens to you weâ€™ll just take you the doctor and get you fixed.’â€
As of right now there are only 16 women on the team. Ideally, Kelly would like to see 22 women on the team because that is the amount of jerseys she has available.
It takes 15 to play a game, but with only one sub available, Kelly wonâ€™t have much to work with. In rugby, once a player is substituted, the player cannot return to the game.
â€œRealistically, it will be hard to get 30 to come out, but if I could get 28 women to come out, that would be great,” Kelly said. “If I could sub one squad for another squad I would be ecstatic.â€
Kelly knows that recruiting more women for rugby is going to be a difficult process, but she insists she is up for the task. As a freshman at CSUF, she will have four years to build the rugby program into what she hopes will become a mainstay at CSUF.
â€œIâ€™ve always believed that you have to do what drives you and be passionate about what you do. When I graduate from CSUF I want people to be able to say that rugby isnâ€™t just a manâ€™s sport, itâ€™s a womanâ€™s sport too.”
The women have begun practicing already in preparation for the league, which starts in January. The team practices on Mondays and Wednesdays in front of the Student Health Center at CSUF.