PRINCETON, NJ – Atlantis was founded in 1986 originally as a men’s invitational team from the Atlantic coast of the United States. Since then, it has been expanded to include women and players from the entire USA, occasionally with guests from other countries.
Besides entering domestic tournaments and the toughest international tourneys to which it is invited, Atlantis tries to go to countries not known for their rugby, countries to which its players would be unlikely to go were it not for the rugby. Thus the 30 countries to which Atlantis has traveled to date have included not only rugby powers like New Zealand, Australia and England, but also Bulgaria, Malaysia, Cuba, and several other places where rugby is a decidedly minority sport. We would not make these trips if it was not for the rugby, and it’s the rugby that binds us together as a team and also to our hosts. In the end, however, we learn about not only the opposing rugby players but also their countries and culture and this makes Atlanteans more aware of the wider world in which we reside.
Next week, the Atlantis women will be traveling to its 31st country, Laos. Atlantis Emperor Emil Signes coaches the Princeton Women’s Rugby Club and he made the Laos connection with Princeton alum Maggie Dillon ’06. Maggie is in charge of women’s rugby in Laos as head of the Lao Rugby Federation (which you can also find on Facebook.)
Atlantis will play in a tournament on January 26-27 in Laotian capital Vientiane. They will spend the next week conducting outreach activities in conjunction with Lao Rugby’s sport for development projects in H’mong and Khmu villages in one of the poorest districts in all of Laos. These villages are located along a supply line from the Vietnam War, and as such are still heavily contaminated with unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War.
The tour party includes players:
Karen Backenstose, Keystone
Brittany Budner, NOVA
Sara Edwards, Glendale
Casey Gallagher, Singapore Bucks
Tracy Gola, Glendale
Dot Mittow, Princeton
Misha Renda, At Large
Lauren Rhode, Princeton
Heather van der Hoop, Vancouver Meralomas
Josie Ziluca, NOVA
*Special thanks to Hannah McDonald-Moniz/Lao Rugby Federation for her excellent photographs.