After a season with minimal play because of the COVID-19 pandemicand the corresponding pandemic, the Pittsburg State University Women’s Rugby Club is looking forward to its chance to reclaim a spot at nationals.
The Women’s Rugby Club, known also as Rilla Rugby, was re-established in the fall of 2017. According to the official Rilla Rugby Facebook page, the original team had approximately ten members. The club competes in the USA Rugby Mid-America Collegiate Division-II Conference alongside several other universities. Mauresa Claire, senior in manufacturing & engineering technology as well as the current president of the PSU Women’s Rugby Club, says the team looks forward to facing the University of Central Missouri (UCM) in the upcoming season.
“We are particularly excited to play UCM this semester,” Claire said. “They were the only team we hadn’t played before Covid happened, so we were unable to claim the conference title, but we are excited to be back and have the chance to play them again.”
Statistics from two of the club’s tournaments in 2020 recorded on the Rilla Rugby Facebook page demonstrate the possible season the club could have had if the pandemic hadn’t been part of the equation.
On Feb. 16, 2020, the club attended the Mardi Gras Rugby Tournament in New Orleans, Louisiana hosted by the New Orleans Halfmoons Rugby Team. The club finished 2-1 to earn second place, winning 47-0 against Southern Illinois University, winning 22-0 against Tulane University, and falling 0-22 against the University of Central Florida.
On March 7, 2020, the club played a conference match against the University of Missouri (Mizzou) in Columbia, Missouri. This match, which the club won 72-35, brought the club’s conference standings to a score of 3-0. According to Claire, this match would have put Rilla Rugby in an objectively good position to contend for the conference title had the pandemic not occurred soon after.
“This is our first official season back from COVID,” Claire said. “In 2020, we were on track to go to nationals that April. Our goal is to reclaim our seat to the national playoffs. I have no doubt that our team has what it takes to get there.”
According to the official match schedule on the Mid-America Rugby Football Union website, PSU Women’s Rugby will play against UCM on Sept. 18 at home. No other official matches for the women’s team have been posted to the match schedule at this time.
Anyone interested in playing for the PSU Women’s Rugby Club can find information on both Facebook (under the name Pittsburg State University Women’s Rugby Club) through the PSU IMLeagues portal or through Gorilla Engage. Club practices are held Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 8-9:30 a.m. in the Plaster Center and Thursdays from 5-6:30 p.m. at the old rugby pitch on the corner of Ford St. and Rouse St. across from the Kansas Technology Center.