Women’s rugby – moving forward one backward pass at a time

By |2018-01-15T19:04:26-05:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

By Dawn Wolfe

They may be running forward, but they pass the ball backward.
Yes, backward.
Imagine fifteen women per team, plus a referee, running, tackling, kicking, and passing – backwards – on a field called a “pitch” on a late Saturday morning. Cathy Jaruzel, public relations officer and president of Flint Women’s Rugby, calls this form of semi-controlled chaos her idea of a good time.
“It can be confusing – the only way you can tell one person from the other is color of their jersey,” said Jaruzel.
Jaruzel is far from alone in her enthusiasm for the sport, which was developed in England in the early-mid 1800’s.
And while Michigan has been slow to catch rugby fever, the game is catching on.
“My mom and dad are very loyal for my home team,” said Jaruzel. “Unfortunately not too many people who are not directly involved come and watch.”
However, more women are playing. Flint Women’s Rugby’s spring season will begin April 2, with a game against the Grand Rapid’s women’s team, which will include women from Ann Arbor.
“Both Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor are starting brand new clubs and both are actively recruiting,” said Jaruzel, who in the next breath offered her phone number as a source for women interested in joining either team.
According to Jaruzel, her friendliness and willingness to help both current and potential rugby players, and even other teams, is actually a hallmark of women’s rugby players worldwide.
“I am involved because I like the people,” Jaruzel said. “There’s very much a sense of community – I could go anywhere in the world, tell the local rugby team I’m coming, and they’d let me play with them. We’d go out together – they’d show me the local pubs, they’d show me around.”
“It’s like a big, big family – with a whole lot of shirt-tail cousins,” she added.
The women’s rugby season is divided into spring and fall sessions – and the spring session is the perfect time for newcomers to join leagues. According to Jaruzel, the spring half of the season is composed of six games, called “friendlies” because none of them count toward the playoffs. The playoffs, which are played each spring, are held between teams that qualify for spots during the fall session, which is made up of “eight solid weeks of games over two months.”
Jaruzel’s team did not qualify for the playoffs last fall, so their spring session will be made up entirely of “friendlies” matches.
“Friendlies” are played by friendly women who, unlike the NHL, don’t charge admission and who are playing for fun. Ultimately, it is that passion, fun and camaraderie that is taking women’s rugby forward – one backward pass at a time.
Flint Women’s Rugby’s first game will take place April 2 in Flint against members of the newly-forming Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor women’s teams. The game will begin at 11 a.m. at Longway Park, behind Potter School at 2500 N. Averill Ave. For more information on the spring season, or on joining, call Cathy Jaruzel at 810-919-6883. Flint Women’s Rugby is also online at http://flintwomensrugby.com.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.