Katy’s Rugby Ruminations

I’m excited to share this with everyone … a lot of times I find that even though I’m pretty good at digging up lots of stories to share and chatting about my own experiences playing, my viewpoints aren’t always the same as a player in another part of the country.

So, today, I’m stoked to post the first ever post by a guest blogger on Saturday’s A Rugby Day. Katy blogs regularly over at Steel City Experiment, plays for the Pittsburgh Women’s team, is a Penn State alum and is currently in grad school. Katy also traveled to Edmonton and wrote game recaps of this year’s Women’s World Cup games for the IRB web site. I’ve asked Katy to share her thoughts on rugby among the Division II Women and the eastern part of the country.

– Blondie

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Katy’s Rugby Ruminations

Even though I should be focused on my coursework and lesson plans for my students, my mind is increasingly lost to rugby these days. It’s playoff season. Five days away from the Women’s DII Midwest Championship and I am pumped. My team, Pittsburgh, must play its deep rival in the first round.

We face Detroit for the second time his season to see which of us will go to nationals. Perennial competitor, 2-time consecutive national champions Detroit, or Pittsburgh, who have been slaving since last season, sprinting our asses off on the Astroturf in our quest to be the best.

This year, last year’s champs Raleigh Venom are hosting DII women’s nationals. DII rugby has been on my mind a lot in the past years, and not just because I play for a DII club.

Since I discovered the existence of the DII league, I have been disappointed and frustrated that they are not sanctioned or recognized by USA Rugby. I love the efforts from folks like Lori Staples and Rene Ovrut and Annie Antar and countless others of whom I am unfamiliar. These women work together to make this league work. On their own, they organize every detail to produce well run, amazing championships with quality personnel and tough rugby.

I’m not sure what it will take to make DII women’s rugby “legitimate” in the eyes of our governing body, but tournaments like last year’s nationals in Naples are a heck of a start.

Thanks to the Lady Hammerheads, the tournament had amazing media coverage (local news, radio broadcasts, ads, newspaper press) and an informative website detailing every instant of the weekend. The visiting teams even received welcome packets with coupons and discounts! The event was an all-around amazing, professional sporting event. I hope the Venom live up to the challenge this year, because the competing teams are looking even better than last year.

Four unions are sending two teams each to the competition, after organizing their own league and territorial playoff structures. DII women’s rugby is out there, every weekend, practicing every week and proving our worth across the country. Our league sees a lot of new teams, social sides, and teams that have their peaks and valleys, but there is a corps of solid competitors out there and we are the stepping stones to select sides, the welcome wagon for recent college grads and rugby newbies.

We are playing good rugby every Saturday and I am pumped to go along for the ride to this year’s championship series. Tune into the Venom site for updates, because it is going to be an awesome show.

– Katy

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4 Comments

Filed under D2, Guest Blogger, Katy's Rugby Ruminations

4 responses to “Katy’s Rugby Ruminations

  1. Emily

    Terrific 🙂 One day, someone will realize what a big part of rugby Women’s D2 is (and that the WNT is way better than the mens and deserves recongizition…)

  2. Nancy

    Just launched! The Official web page of the Women’s DII National Championships. It is a work in progress but it needed to be out in time for this year’s tournament. http://www.WDIIRugby.org.

  3. OBG

    Fantastic post. Thanks for providing the spot, Blondie. Great comments, especially “the welcome wagon for recent college grads and rugby newbies.” Maybe there would be more women playing senior side rugby after high school and college if there were more opportunity in the form of D2 teams?

    USA Rugby does not support grassroots rugby. I think they are trying to change that and with good people like KT Wurst working hard at things like youth initiatives, maybe it will come.

    I was struck by something Chad Erskine said in his Rugby Magazine (latest issue) profile: “Comments on US rugby: We need to channel our enthusiasm towards the US National Team. Every tournament, league and competition should be designed to better support the US National Team. We should stop fighting amongst ourselves, selfishly preventing players from avenues to the highest level they can achieve. We should make it easy for players to get to the highest level possible.
    Area where US rugby needs work: Fundamental skills at the grassroots level.”

    So, on one hand, Chad says we need to channel our efforts towards the national teams. But, on the other, he says we need to build the grassroots. I’m not disagreeing with Chad (as an Eagles fan who works every week at the grassroots level).

    BUT, there is an old business school saw: A company conducted a focus group session and found that half of the people like mild salsa and half like hot salsa. So, the company made medium salsa. And nobody was buying what they were selling.

    Focus means just that. If it’s grassroots that’s needed, that’s where the effort should go. And the terrific results of women’s DII rugby certainly speak volumes about the effectiveness of grassroots efforts.

  4. Blondie

    OBG –

    I agree. You can’t have a great top to your pyramid if the base isn’t wide and structurally sound, which is why we need more rugby at the grassroots level.

    And for anyone interested, here’s the URL for the Rugby Magazine profile on Chad Erskine – http://www.rugbymag.com/archive/2006/october/mensprofile.html

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