Women’s Cougar Rugby started at the bottom, now on top

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The 2014-2015 Women's Rugby team. The club team has taken third place at nationals three years in a row. (byuwomensrugby.com)
The 2014–2015 Women’s Cougar Rugby team. The club team has taken third place at nationals three years in a row. (byuwomensrugby.com)

Women’s Cougar Rugby has transformed into a BYU club team that has taken third place at nationals three years in a row and most recently finished in second place.

This past weekend the Women’s Cougar Rugby team went to Pittsburg for the Final Four of Nationals. Being a single elimination tournament, these rounds would determine the team’s ranking.

Women’s Cougar Rugby team, first formed in 2000, is now ranked second in the nation after its win against West Chester and its loss against Central Washington. This is a feat for the team, which has taken third for the past three years. Tom Waqa, head couch of Women’s Cougar Rugby, said, “We are not taking that for granted. We will not rest on our laurels but keep working hard.”

Women’s Cougar Rugby was started by 19-year-old sophomore Julia Hobbs, from Norman, Oklahoma. She hung up fliers around campus asking girls if they were interested to call her. Many did, and the team was created. “I found out about the team as a freshman from a friend who was playing. I googled about the team, thinking, ‘I wonder what this is?'” said Nicole Beatie, current team captain, from Hillsboro, Oregon, and a senior majoring in public health. “I emailed Tom, came to the first practice, and the rest is history.”

Since it is a club team, participants are all walk-ons, and the club has to do its own advertising and fund raising. Every year, the team puts up fliers and talks to as many girls as it can to generate. Each team member has to pay a fee when joining the team, and the athletes do concessions at basketball and football games to help raise money for traveling and gear.

“Rugby is not like any sport you’ve ever played before. There are a lot more rules and it’s a lot more technical, but one day you’ll be in a game and it will all click, and it’s the best feeling in the world,” Beatie said. The team practices for two hours every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday year round. The girls are extremely dedicated to the sport and to each other.

“I’ve played on so many sports teams, and one of the things I noticed right off the bat is how much they love each other. I think that because rugby is so physical and such a tough sport, you really have to have each other’s back on the field, and that has carried to off the field also. You will make your very best friends on this team,” Beatie said.

Hillary Hironaka, an exercise science major from Alberta, Canada, credited “our sportsmanship, love and respect for one another” as the qualities that identify the Women’s Cougar Rugby team.

Women’s Cougar Rugby’s mission statement is to provide BYU students who are interested in rugby the opportunity to learn more about the game by interacting with other students and engaging in activities that will create a heartwarming and memorable experience.

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