Women’s Rugby Opens the Scrum

USF women’s rugby club held their first clinic at Negoesco Stadium on Sept. 9 to create awareness for their club and welcome players of all levels.

Bill Batista, head coach of the team, said the goal of the clinic was to introduce new players to different positions in order to see which ones work best for each player.

“The great thing about rugby is that there is always a position for somebody,” Batista said. “We can always find something for someone… [Rugby] also teaches you how to communicate, how to be vocal. It helps your assertiveness –– you have to know how to plan and coordinate. And it is a great way to get outside.”

For the first hour of the clinic, participants warmed up on the field. They then completed skill drills in two groups: beginners and advanced. Beginners practiced properly passing a rugby ball to teammates while advanced players refined their tackling skills.

“At the end of the clinic, we all got together and played a quick round of touch rugby, which is without the tackling but it helps new players get the motion of the game,” said Andy Wijaya, vice president of the club.

Wijaya said a big reason why the women’s rugby team decided to have a clinic is because women’s rugby isn’t promoted a lot at USF. “We are trying to broaden that spectrum and get as many people as we can, and go out and play,” she said.

Freshman Eva Westbrook is a first-time rugby player. She decided to join because she played 12 years of soccer and 6 years of basketball. “I am looking forward to the physicality of the game and the competitiveness [it] will bring throughout the year,” Westbrook said.

She said her favorite part of the clinic was learning how to tackle. “It’s fun to be physical, strong, and aggressive.”

Tiffany Holmes, another novice player, said the clinic was a good way to teach new players like herself, who aren’t familiar with rugby, the basics and techniques of the sport. “We learned a lot about the basics such as passing the rugby ball and tackling,” she said. “There is a lot of technique that go into tackling in order to make sure you don’t injure yourself in the process.”

On her favorite part of the clinic, Holmes said she enjoyed meeting new people from different age levels. “[I met] girls in graduate school, to alumni, to girls who live in San Francisco.”

Melissa Valdez, assistant coach, said last year the women’s rugby team had a tough season due to a shortage of players and, as a result, had to forfeit numerous games.

After the clinic, Valdez said she thinks the team has a lot of potential players. “Three of the ladies who came out have already played so that gives us more prospects than last year,” she said. “Most women who join have never played rugby before, so having girls with some experience definitely changes the game a little for the team.”

To learn more about the women’s rugby team, contact Bill Batista at wbattista@usfca.edu.

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