Women’s rugby clubs ‘emerging’ nationally; DSU club growing

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The Dixie State University women’s rugby lost Saturday to the Las Vegas Slots 30-7.

The team has been the most promising since it started this year, said club president Lyndsie Thompson, a junior communication major from Tooele. 

DSU’s women’s rugby club started two years ago. When the club started, it did not compete due to its lack of players. The second year grew to having just enough girls to play, but this year the team has expanded to about 40 girls. 

Thompson said the new coaching staff has made a big difference in helping the team’s growth by being more involved and more experienced. The girls are also more committed this season. 

 Vika Havili, a senior integrated studies from Glendale, has been part of the team since it started and said this year’s team has been the most consistent from prior years.

“The team chemistry is way better this year,” Havili said. 

Like DSU, there are 347 other collegiate women rugby clubs, according to the NCAA. A few teams have been sanctioned by the NCAA and has classified rugby as “emerging,” meaning future sanctions could be possible. 

DSU’s women’s rugby club has a record of 1:2 after Saturday’s match against the Slots.

DSU started the game a foot behind the Slots, scoring its first try with only a few minutes into the half. DSU wasn’t challenging the rucks after its tackles, allowing the Slots to easily control the ball.

Havili said the first half was pretty rough. The team had injuries; it played on its heels against a team more experienced.

“There were a lot of butterflies in the first half,” head coach Michael Matalolo said.

The Slots dominated the first half scoring six tries, which went unanswered by DSU.

DSU came out pressuring the rucks in the second half and holding the Slots to just one try. Havili also scored a try and strategically placed the ball behind the field goal, then kicked the field goal for the two extra points.

The try was redeeming after injuring her shoulder in the first half, Havili said.

The Slots head coach Robert Fugate said DSU dominated the second half.

Fugate has been around rugby for 23 years and said he knows what it is like to play for an inexperienced college team.

“I hate the saying ‘losing builds character,’ but you have to get your butt kicked every once in a while to pick up your weaknesses,” Fugate said.

Fugate said DSU exposed the Slot’s weakness of fitness but said he was glad to show a younger team how an older team plays.

The final score was 30-7.

DSU started its season with a loss in a match mixed with two teams, the Vipers and the Sluggs, and the final score was 34-5. DSU won the match thereafter against Southern Utah University, finishing 15-10. 

Thompson encourages girls who are interested, and may be a little nervous to give rugby a shot, and said she first started out intimidated by the sport, too. 

“[Rugby] really isn’t that bad,” Thompson said. “It is actually a lot of fun.”

Women’s rugby has four more games. It plays about every two weeks. The team will be facing Southern Utah University Nov. 7 in Cedar City at 11 a.m. and the next home game is against SUU Nov. 21 at 11 a.m.