Wanted: women’s rugby players, volunteers, fans

One of the things Rachael Dunahoo loves the most about rugby is a phrase you’ll often hear players saying to each other as they work their way down the field.

“I got you.” It’s a phrase that embodies the team camaraderie and focus on a united goal that makes rugby so appealing to Dunahoo and others starting a new women’s rugby club.

Dunahoo, along with Jenna Adams, is leading the new Iowa City Women’s Rugby Club. Their goal is to revive rugby throughout the Corridor for adult female players.

The two, along with veteran rugby mentor Tyler Dailey, are working to attract both former college players and those just trying the sport for the first time. They hope to inspire new interest in a sport they say is not only big on camaraderie, but also more approachable and less violent than its stereotype.

The new club is the only women’s club in the Corridor area and is committed to the “union” style of rugby, which is a more moderately-paced and polite style than the “league” style of rugby. They’re aiming for a club that is “fun and accessible” but also playing competitively.

So far the new club has drawn about 15 active players, and a Facebook group of 47. Dunahoo and Adams are seeking to bond with the Old Capitol City Roller Derby team, another community sports leader. The two will join for a social March 10, and interested players are invited.

Spring Rugby Meet and Greet, March 10, 3-5 p.m., Big Grove Brewery, 1225 S. Gilbert St.

Call Rachael Dunahoo at 563-468-9434 for more information

Members who joined for the group’s first social in December are pumped to get a club started. “Rugby really pulls me out of my comfort zone,” says Amber Dale. “It’s hard, it’s fast … it’s just kind of ‘go, go, go.’ “

Dunahoo also loves the sensation of constant pursuit. “The way it’s played, you just don’t stop. It feels so natural.

Dailey describes union rugby as “an evasive sport, not a collision sport.” It demands technical skills more than physical prowess, and while it’s physical, people of any body type can find a place in the sport.

Adams says she appreciates the sense of empowerment she feels from rugby. “I’ve never played a sport that makes you feel this tough and rewarded for your hard work,” says Jenna. “I love the culture and tradition of the sport.”

Gabbie Hill has been playing the sport her whole life, including as a child growing up in Australia where she competed alongside boys her age as a teenager. She loves the combination of competitiveness and friend-making.

“In rugby, you’ll have moments of, ‘I want to tackle you so bad!’ Sometimes, you’ll actually want to kill somebody on the field. But you’ll never experience any bitchiness or cattiness.”

The team already feels a sense of pride in the club.

“Just to say, ‘I play rugby’ is awesome,” says Dunahoo. “You get to feel like a badass.

“But also, when you join a team in rugby, you’re immediate family. That’s what we’re hoping for this team.”

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