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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Getting back on the field

Photo by via TAMU Women’s Rugby Instagram Page

Texas A&M women’s rugby team originally started competing in 1974.

The Texas A&M women’s rugby club has been preparing for the spring season by practicing and conditioning.
Though the team hasn’t been able to compete this fall, the Aggies are hopeful for returning to the field in the spring season.
Senior and lock Julia “J.T.” Taylor is the team’s longest-standing member and said the team has been focusing on fundamentals.
“Right now with all of the COVID[-19] restrictions, we are practicing, but in a preseason way,” Taylor said. “We are not competing but are in four separate cohorts. We can’t do any contact like tackling, so a lot of it is just fitness related what we’re doing in practice, getting ready for spring. We usually would be competing right now, but we’re not.”
Team president and fly-half Lynsey “Prius” McKinney said the team still has yet to hear any news about spring competitions.
“Right now, we are just practicing two days a week and have no competitions planned at all in the fall,” McKinney said.
Taylor said the team would usually have both of its coaches in practices helping conduct drills, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the training has changed. The team has to get their temperatures checked before practice and then all equipment has to be wiped down before and after use.
“Usually, we would have everyone practicing together, have both of our coaches there and be going through drills, but this year we can’t have more than like five to 10 people together at once,” Taylor said. “We have to stay in separate corners of the field, and if one of our coaches is there, she’ll rotate around.”
Recruiting officer and prop Rebecca “Chewie” Carcaño said it has been difficult to play the highly physical sport and connect with the new players due to the non-contact restrictions.
“We have practices… within small cohorts, so when you first join the team, or if you are already on the team, you get assigned to a cohort, and [that] you practice only with that cohort twice a week,” Carcaño said. “It sucks because sometimes we don’t get to meet the new rookies, but it is what it is. The practices currently are non-contact, which in rugby is kind of counterproductive, almost.”
McKinney is going into her third year playing for the club team and said the club has utilized social media to create a virtual recruitment process this year.
“Rebecca has a lot of great ideas to be more active on social media and [to] try to work with our alumni to spotlight them a lot more,” McKinney said. “[We want] to do more newsletters to get the word out for us.”
Taylor said recruitment has been different from years before, as there are limited opportunities to introduce the sport to students.
“We have been recruiting, [but] it’s just been weird since years past,” Taylor said. “Usually, we would recruit at MSC Open House like every other organization, but this year has been a lot more word of mouth. We have gotten six new rookies this semester alone, just by word of mouth.”
Carcaño said the process for joining the team is fairly easy despite the COVID-19 restrictions.
“Someone who says they want to join the team talks to one of our officers, we walk them through and they have to sign an assessment of risk form,” Carcaño said. “Once that assessment of risk form is cleared by the Rec, then they are assigned to a cohort and can start showing up to practice.”
Within the past two years, the women’s rugby team has had national success that they wish to continue when play resumes.
“Last fall we won the Texas State Championship game against [Texas] and were ranked 16th in the nation,” Carcaño said. “We plan to go even higher in ranking this year.”
McKinney said the team has changed her college experience and she wants that for other players, too.
“One thing with us is a lot of the time people don’t know what rugby is and usually don’t know we have a team, so our goal is to just let people know that we’re here,” McKinney said. “It has always been a goal of ours to get people to love rugby just as much as we do. It really is a cool community that, one way or another, we ended up in, whether it was showing up [in] the wrong field or looking for a different club. Rugby is cool in a way that whatever reason people come, they stay for the people.”

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