While rugby isn’t a sport played nationally in the United States, that hasn’t hindered student interest at the University of South Dakota.
The USD women’s rugby club is made up of about 20 women who come from different backgrounds and experiences, striving to learn and compete in a new favorite sport of theirs.
Occupational therapy graduate student Erin Krause, who is also the president of the club, said most don’t know anything about the sport before they join the club, but once they learn the game, they tend to love it.
“I heard about the club in my junior year of undergrad here at USD,” Krause said. “I had never played before but I gave it a shot and have fallen in love with it.”
Along with Krause, first-years Hayley Snodgrass and Allisen Olson both had never played rugby before coming to USD.
“I’ve always liked rugby because I’ve seen movies about it before coming here,” Olson said. “I saw the sign up table and decided I would give it a try.”
Olson is one of the few in the club whose interest in the sport already existed before coming to campus. Others like Snodgrass joined because women in their dormitories were joining the club as well.
“One of my track coaches from high school had mentioned playing rugby to me,” Snodgrass said. “Then I came here and a couple girls from my floor talked me into trying it out, and I’m glad I did because I really enjoy it.”
Both Snodgrass and Olson played several sports in high school, so to be able to compete in a sport on a collegiate level is something they have enjoyed. For both students, though, the best part about the club isn’t competing, but the social environment of the club.
“Meeting new people is the best part,” Olson said. “It’s basically a get-together every time we play or practice.”
Krause agreed with Olson and said she has met some of her closest friends since joining the club three years ago. She hopes other women at USD will join the club next year.
“It’s a lot of fun and huge adrenaline rush sport,” Krause said. “But the best part is the girls on the team. We all come from different backgrounds, but everyone gets along. It’s a great way to meet new people on campus.”
The club is currently in its spring season, where they have to schedule their own games. They compete with other schools in the area including South Dakota State University, Augustana College, Southwest Minnesota State University and Wayne State University.
The club also gets to play in a couple tournaments, and a few members have even been selected to the Prairie States Select Side team which will compete in Davenport, Iowa this weekend at the Midwest LAU Championships.
While the spring season for the rest of the team ends this Sunday at the Sioux Falls Phantom Women’s Rugby Tournament, Krause hopes more women will join the club for its fall season next year.
(Photo: Senior Josey Hansen runs with the ball during a rugby drill April 6. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)