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From Florida to Columbia, 'Rugby Sarah' chases passion

Saturday, September 21, 2013 | 7:48 p.m. CDT
Sarah Seeger reassures the Columbia Rugby Football Club's coach about a play Saturday. Seeger was an assistant referee for the team's game against the Manhattan Legends Rugby Football Club.

COLUMBIA — Pacing up and down the sideline with a red flag in her hand, Sarah Seeger helped referee the Columbia Rugby Football Club's match Saturday. The team beat the Manhattan Legends Rugby Football Club of Manhattan, Kan. 65-10.

This isn't something that is new to Seeger. She has been involved in the rugby community for 36 years and is even called "Rugby Sarah" by players and players' families throughout the country.

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Seeger said her mother played rugby when Seeger was 12 years old. Her family moved to Columbia when she was 13. Since then, she has been involved in all aspects of the sport. 

"I tried to play when I was younger, and it just didn't work out," Seeger said. 

Despite that, Seeger kept up with the sport by becoming an assistant referee and "running touch." She watches to see if the ball goes out of bounds, checks for offside violations and looks for other infractions to help the head official.

Seeger has worked with the Columbia Rugby Football Club, formerly called the Boone County Outlaws, on-and-off since 1991. She is an assistant referee, but she also helps the coach at practice twice a week.

Seeger is involved with other clubs around the area, and travels to help out whenever she is needed.

"I travel when I'm not with these guys," Seeger said about the rugby football club. "Last weekend, I went with these guys on Saturday to Warrensburg, came back and went up and watched Truman (Truman State University). I went and helped Truman on Sunday, ran touch for them for 55 minutes on Sunday."

Seeger said she also officiates for Springfield Rugby Football Club, Kansas City Islanders Rugby Club and even the Kansas Jayhawks Rugby Football Club. She enjoys doing this for one main reason.

"The feeling of it being a family," Seeger said. "You're not just with one club. Anywhere you go, you're always welcome. It's the camaraderie of the sport and the feeling of family."

Seeger also lived in Florida for three years, from 1993-96, and found rugby there by calling around her neighborhood. Even more than a thousand miles away from Missouri, though, she still managed to find a familiar face.

"I got there and was walking down the pitch to find the guy that gave me directions, looked down and a former Mizzou player was there," Seeger said. "He looked up at me and went, 'What the heck are you doing here?' and I said the same thing to him. I know guys in Florida that played with guys I know in Kansas City. Basically, it's a small world."

It's a small world that Seeger hopes to continue to be a part of for years to come.

"They've accepted me," Seeger said. "It's family. I mean, I don't have any family here anymore, so rugby's my family. Tuesday, Thursday I get home, I get changed and I get out to practice."

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.


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