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Mud, Blood and Ponytails

A predecessor of football has become a game for the girls
Sunday, May 20, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:26 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Freshman Katie Jackson gets tackled by Kansas State.

“You get to hit people,” says Mel SanMiguel, a rugby veteran. “It’s definitely an aggression releaser.”

A predecessor of football, rugby has struggled to gain prominence in the U.S. It’s a game relegated to college club level, that carries the tarnished reputation of heavy drinking and bad behavior.

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But those who relegate rugby to the sidelines miss out on the strengths of one of the most physically-demanding

team sports.

“It’s a game for everyone, no matter what your size or strength,” says Liz Pettit, a freshman and forward. “I love the intensity, the closeness of our team, and who doesn’t like to hit (someone) here and there?”

Players have to be willing to put their bodies on the line every time they go out onto the field or get caught in a tackle. Legs get tangled and, at least once every game, blood gets spilled.

“I see some of the big girls running toward me, and I think, ‘Oh my God, I am going to get crushed,’ ” says Cady Clasby, the newest member of the MU team. “We beat them though, because we’re faster.”

“Some girls describe the team like a sorority. We have a rugby house — my house. There are parties and T-shirts and family dinners. We’re just not Greek,” says team captain Erin Sinclair. “Coming into it you don’t expect togetherness but it’s there.”


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