Celebrating World Rugby Day

Makenna Flynn

Makenna Flynn

Staff Writer

On March 27, 1891, Scotland faced England in Edinburgh on a day that would from then on be known as World Rugby Day. This game forever changed the rugger community, creating a new rugby culture with people around the world connecting over the sensational sport.

As I write this article, I cannot help but appreciate the history of a sport I have grown to love. And I look forward, towards a quickly changing and modern rugby community. Women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing sports – visit any major city and there are bound to be several women’s teams arranging tournaments, games and socials (USA Rugby). 

In honor of World Rugby Day, I sat down with three teammates and veteran rugby players to ask them a few questions. Keep reading to learn more about our Phoenix Women’s Rugby Captains and Vice President.

Keina Crawford, Phoenix Women’s Rugby Forwards Captain Flanker – 15 years

1. How did you first learn about rugby? 

At my first college’s club sports fair. I had heard of it briefly in the past at a camp, but being from the south, we didn’t have many rugby teams.

2. Can you share a favorite rugby memory? 

Too many to count…. But one of my favorite memories was winning our region championship and making it to the sweet 16’s in college. I remember having an amazing athletic trainer there who not only created the perfect wrap for my knee to where I could still kick, but also ended up super gluing my ear after a ruck. The weekend was an amazing experience with an awesome team and rockstar coach, and I have one of my favorite pictures with my rookie on my back holding the trophy after!

3. What do you want the world to know about women’s rugby? 

Women’s rugby is this magical space where people of various backgrounds, talents, personalities, and much more…come together in a collective unit to not only play this sport of organized chaos, but to also become a family. We motivate each other, lift each other up on our off days, party together, eat all of the food together, and more importantly grow together. I have met many of my lifelong friends through this wondrous sport, and I am so thankful to have found it.

Beca Iannone, Phoenix Women’s Rugby Forwards Captain, Flanker  – 15 years

1. How did you first learn about rugby? 

My soccer coach suggested it in high school.

2. Can you share a favorite rugby memory? 

My favorite memory is the first hit I ever took. I thought I was dead. I paced in the try zone holding my chest telling myself I was too small for the sport, that I wasn’t tough enough, that I made a terrible decision. Suddenly I hear my coach’s voice telling me to get back in all the while pointing out a girl running with the ball and saying “hit her!!!!” And I did, I laid the girl out, and suddenly I realized I was made for this sport. 

3. What do you want the world to know about women’s rugby?

Rugby is for anyone. Any shape, any personality, any skill set.  It is a family, and once you are part of it, you never lose it. 

Jillian Sowell, Phoenix Women’s Rugby Vice President, Center, Lock and Flanker – 3 years

 

1. How did you first learn about rugby?

It’s been a cultural thing for me; my dad is from London, and so I’ve been aware of European sports growing up, and then in college, my Polynesian friends got me into playing touch rugby.

2. Can you share a favorite rugby memory?

My favorite rugby memory is an evolving one. Starting and building a team has been a journey and a series of favorite memories from training with our men’s side, launching our women’s squad and having our inaugural season be undefeated, to watching our program grow and develop…Since the first time our squad has stepped on a pitch together, and every time since then, it’s proved to me that dreams can come true if the vision, action and support is there.

3. What do you want the world to know about women’s rugby?

Women’s rugby is full of opportunity that is there for the taking. Not only to grow and develop as an athlete, but also to be a part of an amazing worldwide community. Rugby has a very unique way of developing people on and off the pitch. Our rugby club’s badge is sacrifice, loyalty and commitment. It’s beautiful to see how rugby can help people learn and develop these characteristics. What started out for me as wanting to try something new yet slightly scary and get fit has turned into meeting the love of my life, meeting some of my best and dearest friends, and being a part of an amazing family. If that doesn’t make you want to pick up a rugby ball, I don’t know what will.

The Phoenix Women’s Rugby team also is home to many strong Thunderbird women like myself. As a rookie rugger, having a family like the Phoenix Women’s Rugby team has been worth more than winning any try (point). And with leadership like that of the above women, there is no questioning the potential of our team.

Check out the Phoenix Women’s Rugby on Instagram – @phxwomensrugby

Show your Thunderbird Spirit! Would you or your business want to sponsor us? Contact our fundraising chair at Thunderbird, Carpenter Valk-Feeney. Email: Carpenter.valkfeeney@therugbyfoundation.org

Sources

USA Rugby. (2014). Global Growth of Women’s Rugby. https://assets.usa.rugby/docs/college/ncaa/global-growth-womens-rugby.pdf



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