In their second year on the competitive circuit, the women’s rugby team is the largest growing club sport on campus, according to assistant director of recreational sports Jared Cox.
It’s been only two years since social studies professor and head coach Brad LaPlante took over the women’s rugby team. In that time, the program has gone from students playing against each other on campus to traveling across the Northwest, challenging against some of the most competitive women’s rugby teams in the nation. Making the push into the competitive scene was a part of coach LaPlante’s vision, but he isn’t the only one moving it forward. Players are part of the effort as well.
“The team is all for being competitive at a higher level,” said junior public health and pre-med major and team president Hannah Georges. “We’re excited to move forward with bigger and better schools.”
Though the women’s rugby team offers any female athlete with any level of past rugby experience to come try the sport, many women on the team are coming to Boise State with at least one year of experience with the aim of specifically playing on the club sport team.
September contains two important dates for the women’s rugby program. On Sept. 16, the women kick off their season here against Montana State University on the Boise State Lincoln Turf. Following that, on Sept. 23, it will be announced if the team gets the bid to join the Pacific Mountain Division. The Pacific Mountain Division is a division-one conference that would allow for the Boise State Women’s Rugby program to compete for the National Championship during the Spring 2018 semester.
The season plays out over the course of the whole year while offering different ways to play the game depending on the semester. In the fall, the women compete in 15’s, which means when both teams have their players on the field there are 30 women competing at the same time.
The spring season is the more competitive choice. This version of the game is played with each team having seven women on the field. Last year, it was the women’s spring team that started making a name for themselves and surprising fans when they beat Utah State, who was ranked No. 17 in the nation at the time.
To compete at that level takes a lot of time, but the students invest with more than just their energy. Club sports are a pay-to-play activity, and women’s rugby is no different—each woman has to pay yearly dues of $300 to compete in the program.
Georges even spends her own time scheduling the travel plans for the team and plotting out the logistics of what, when and where.
LaPlante acknowledged how much the students give to the program, and has begun finding ways to get scholarships for talented students he’d like to bring into the program.
Though no scholarships are currently offered for women’s rugby, LaPlante hopes to use the Western Undergraduate Exchange, which allows students in western states to get in-state tuition to bring in athletes, lessen their expenses and give them a better experience, but currently much of the programs talent comes from in-state sources.