Rugby will clear your head and test your mental toughness, says players of the UW-Eau Claire women’s rugby team.
During a game, players don’t think about anything besides moving the ball forward and getting a try, said Kate Konrardy, a third-year vocal performance student.
“I’ve never pushed myself harder than I have in rugby,” Konrady said.
Mya Harris, a third-year elementary education student, said the game has taught her to apply herself and be there mentally, emotionally and physically.
“If you’re not there mentally, you’re not going to be there physically and that disrupts your teammates because it’s a team-playing sport,” said Harris. “If your team isn’t there all together it’s not going to work.”
Unanimously, the women all agreed the family atmosphere is their favorite part about being on the team.
“Rugby is what we happen to do together, but we’re also friends outside of it,” said Konrardy.
The women said they accredited their strength as a team to team bonding, getting to know each other personally and working as a single unit on the playing field.
A team that works together will beat a team with two or three really good players every time, said Konrady.
The team plays against other UW System and Midwestern schools and has been to the national championships the past two years in a row.
Something unique to rugby and not seen in other sports is after a game, opposing players hang out together, said Teagan Velin, a fifth-year communication studies student.
“What happened in the game doesn’t matter, you just hang out afterwards,” Velin said, “We’re tough, but we’re also a group of softies.”
Konrardy said a lot of people may feel intimidated because rugby is an aggressive contact sport, or they think they are not athletic enough, but they’ll be so surprised by what they can do.
She also said rugby is a great sport because it’s a sport for every body type — you need the small, fast women to run the ball, the huskier women to plow over people and everyone else in between.
There is no reason to discourage yourself from trying it out, said the teammates.
Rugby was originally a men’s sport, and women’s rugby has become popular only more recently — proving women can play ugly sports, too. No one looks pretty playing rugby and it is a confidence booster, said Velin.
Kali Harpster, a second-year business student and recruitment chair for the team, said she initially told herself she doesn’t look like someone who would play rugby.
“I went out there and I did it and I amazed myself with what I could do so it taught me not to doubt myself,” Harpster said.
Velin echoed Harpster’s sentiment.
“Rugby taught me the opinions of other people outside of the sport don’t matter,” Velin said.
Harpster said players don’t have to have any prior experience to join the team — in fact, Velin did not — just show up to a practice.
Since the team is a club sport, they do not get to play this season due to COVID-19, but the women still practice from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sundays and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For more information about the team, you can follow them on Facebook.
Steiler can be reached at [email protected]