The women’s rugby club wrapped up its season this past weekend, placing second in the Greater Carolina D2 Union with a record of 9-1. The team thought they were moving on to the regionals on April 21, 2018, but Maryland’s Salisbury University put in a last-minute bid to play them, and the Cougars wound up losing with a short-handed squad.

The loss doesn’t detract from a great season, however, which included two wins over their biggest foe, Appalachian State.

“They are our rivals, but more recently our good friends,” says Rachel Dors, the club’s president. “Over the years, our teams have gotten closer, but it’s still a good feeling to beat them, especially for the alumni.”

Taking its name from the school where the sport originated in England in 1823, union rugby is played in two, 40-minute halves by two teams of 15 players each on a football-like field with goalposts, often referred to as a “pitch.” Like football, the goal is to run the oval ball into the end zone or “try-zone” (a score is called a “try”) and field goals are worth three points. But, unlike football, players aren’t allowed to pass the ball forward. And they don’t wear pads, just cleats and mouth guards.

Women’s rugby is one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide, and unlike a lot of sports that have different rules for men’s and women’s teams (softball, baseball, basketball etc.), there’s no difference between the rules of play for men’s and women’s rugby.

“That’s one of the best parts about this sport,” says Dors, who plays inside center in the “backs” (there are eight forwards and seven backs). “Both play by the exact same rules for the exact same time and just as hard. It’s a very empowering sport because it’s one of the few where women are not ostracized.”

The CofC women’s rugby club started in 1997 after a couple of years of informal pickup games. They play their home games at a field known as “The Yard” off Riverland Road on James Island. Ironically, the last time the team made the regionals three years ago, they were in the same position as Salisbury, won a bid game and made it all the way to the nationals, where they wound up sixth.

“I like how incredibly inclusive rugby is,” says Dors, a senior double majoring in hospitality and tourism management and business administration. “We need all different body types for each of the positions, so anyone can play. The rugby body type can be anyone of any size, with a little bit of fire in them.”

She adds, “I also love how close the team gets; it’s like a family. We defend and respect each other on and off the pitch, anywhere, anytime. I love my rugby ladies a lot and the coaches even more. Rugby truly made my college experience unforgettable.”

For more information about CofC’s women’s rugby club, visit the team’s Facebook page.