The Collegian
Thursday, March 30, 2023

Women's Rugby: Sugar, spice and everything nice

Richmond College '09

Saturday afternoon while we were all dressing in various pinks and pastels, while our dates wore high heels and grandmother's pearls, while we were headed to the tailgate to pay homage to Homer Simpson's quip that "Watching stuff is way better than doing stuff," some of our Westhampton women weren't with us. Or rather, we weren't with them. On a field just 30 minutes south of Richmond campus in Virginia, 15 girls stood beneath giant stadium lights, alone.

The other team was there. Big, angry, goliath-looking women -- dressed in black with red eyes and snarling lips -- opposed to our Westhampton girls in red and blue. The other team, mean and well-equipped with twice as many players, three coaches and a whole circus of spectators and supporters, glared smugly. Our Richmond girls only had each other. But they were there. Outnumbered, outsized and outmatched, our Richmond girls were there.

When halftime approached, our team stood at the goal line bruised and battered, tired and exhausted. Our Richmond players played every play -- on offense and defense -- while the other team in those dark jerseys could switch players. Black rugby shirts were swapped as the other team made subs. A seemingly never-ending supply of fresh recruits marched onto the field replenishing the other army.

Down 40-0 and down a player, our girls lined up on the end of the field to receive the next kick off. Heads bent, eyes demurely on the ground ... the whistle blew, and each girl made a decision ... one by one, their

heads lifted, and their eyes rose to meet the behemoth army rushing towards them.

Our team kept going. They fought when it was hard, when no one cared for them. "We choose to do these things," Kennedy wrote of climbing mountains and going to the moon, "not because they are easy but because they are hard ..." It's courage in the face of fear that makes men brave -- and women as well?

Not only were these girls so outmatched and outsupported, but they had no coach and no fans. They did this for themselves. They played for each other, before no audience but God. To play. This is the life struggle: Fight to fight ... live to live. And they fought not only against a bigger army, but against gender stereotypes, as well. The adage goes that girls are "Sugar and spice and everything nice," not strong and brave nor capable and determined. But these girls are. They aren't preaching theory, but practice. Even Plato would agree: Our virtues are what we do, not what we believe -- our actions, not our words.

These girls embody the larger story of the life struggle, of womens empowerment, all the while proving that women can be both strong and lovely. Brave and beautiful.

On our campus there is fortunately much ado about theory and womens studies, but it is altogether fitting and proper that we honor those who embody, beneath the hot sun of action, that which we so nobly profess from the cool comfort of our classrooms. Join us this Thursday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. on the Intramural Fields to support our girls rugby team against The University of Mary Washington.

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