When freshman Frannie Dakin-White first came to Principia from England, she was determined to start a women’s rugby team. Dakin-White played rugby in high school and was thrilled when she heard she would be able to watch the men’s team play. After the Thunder Chickens finished their season with a national championship, Dakin-White asked sophomore Tori Raine to help her get the women’s club team established. Raine has managed the men’s team for the past two years and has developed a great understanding of the game. Both Dakin-White and Raine are elated about their new club.

At the first informational meeting, 19 women showed up ready to learn about the basics of rugby. Members of the men’s team drew diagrams on the board and demonstrated passing motions. A week later the newly formed team met for practice in Crafton. When asked about their impressions, both Dakin-White and Raine beamed. “We already have a huge sense of team, which is really important,” Dakin-White said.

At the end of the practice they had optional sprints and nearly every girl stayed to participate. Junior Jessica Santos sees rugby as an opportunity to express harmony. “It is an aggressive sport, but just like in any other sport, [we] can reflect harmony on the field,” she said. “Also, I believe as women we need to support clubs like this that go beyond gender stereotypes.”

Previous experience comes in handy when introducing a new sport. Junior Anna Tarnow played rugby at Bates College in Maine her freshman year before transferring to Principia. “I found that it was a really fun and energetic game, and so I was really happy to join when Frannie and Tori started up a team,” she said. “The first practice was fun. We were practicing passing and falling correctly, as well as doing some sprints. I’m excited to get to play in a real game and also just to have the team experience.”

Freshman Kat Biang, like many, is new to rugby. “It is not a famous sport back in the Philippines, where I’m from,” she said. “I joined women’s rugby because I think it is a fun sport and I find it interesting. We learned how to pass the ball and fall safely, kudos to Toby Raine. I am already building a strong bond with my teammates, and I’m hyped about that.”

The team plans to play “fifteens” against other clubs such as the University of Missouri. While the primary season is in the fall, they are using this semester to learn the game and improve fitness. There are not many local teams, so for now they will be scrimmaging themselves and possibly working with the men’s team.

Luckily the new players will have elite instruction from Ward Patterson, the head coach of the men’s team who will contribute his knowledge. There will also be immense help from the men’s team. Senior Naveed Hosseinmardi said, “I definitely plan to help them train whenever I can. I can’t wait to see what they are capable of.”