Indianapolis, Indiana – My love and appreciation for rugby has come through my kids’ involvement in the sport. I know what I think of it, but it’s even better to know what kids think of the sport they play. Anna Noakes plays for the Rustin High School Girls Rugby Club and loves rugby. She wrote a wonderful essay expressing her thoughts on the game that’s attracting more and more girls looking for a way to have fun, gain confidence, and make lifetime friends. We thought it deserved an A+, and wanted to share it with our Rugby Wrap Up mums, dads, players, fans and friends! We present it to you in its entirety for your enjoyment. Thank you, Anna!
High School Level Women’s Rugby, by Anna Noakes
For many teenage girls and their parents, the thought of playing rugby is scary. However, these fears stem from very different places. Parents are mostly concerned about their children’s safety (Kervin). How rugby is played is a very foreign concept to most of them, and parts of the game, such as rucks and scrums, can seem almost barbarian. For high school girls, however, the fear is not only based on safety, but also how they will be perceived by their peers because c’mon, rugby is “football with no pads” (Rugby). Girls can’t be THAT aggressive, right? Wrong. High school girls can excel at rugby, and learn a multitude of valuable lessons in the process.
When I started playing rugby my freshman year of high school, I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with the stereotypes and stigma surrounding girls playing rugby, especially on the high school level. High school is a time to not only find yourself but also develop your identity through associating with different groups of people and participating in certain activities. When I first started playing rugby, I was constantly worried about being thought of as “unfeminine” because, after all, society tells us that tackling and showing aggression are inherently “manly” things. I wouldn’t say I was ashamed of it, but it took me about a year and a half to fully embrace the power and strength I felt from playing rugby. I realized it was cool to put all your energy into something, even if it means getting bruises all over your legs and soreness that lasts a week. For me, rugby has redefined my idea of what it means to be a woman. I no longer succumb to some of society’s belief that the only way to be a woman is through looking nice and being polite. Now, I believe an important part of being a woman is kicking butt at something you love.
If you look at Nash Grier’s highly talked about video “What Guys Look for in Girls,” three guys sit around and talk about their “ideal girl” which includes not being too loud, or too crazy, or too tall, or wearing lipstick, or being too experienced, etc. Really, the list goes on and on. Before I started playing rugby, I might have watched this video closely and tried my hardest to follow all the guidelines. I constantly looked for approval, like many of us do. I listened closely to how women are supposed to be. Rugby, however, has taught me not to care what other people think. I may be biased, but I believe it takes a girl with a certain amount of courage and independence to play rugby. That being said, rugby at the high school level attracts a large variety of different girls. On my team, we have girls of all different shapes and sizes and backgrounds, and yet they all carry themselves with an air of confidence on and off the field. One of the most important things about rugby is that it allows girls with non-athletic body types to excel at a sport, and thus gain confidence with themselves and their bodies’ abilities. From this confidence they all have, and the confidence I gain from rugby, I have learned that is it okay to be confident regardless of if I fit into all of Nash Grier’s requirements of being conventionally attractive.
I urge girls that have never excelled at a sport, or are struggling with their identity, to put aside their fears and join their high school rugby team. More importantly, I urge parents to allow their girls to play. A broken finger here or there is nothing compared to the confidence, community and sense of self that they will find.
Grier, Nash. What Guys Find Attractive. Youtube. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
Kervin, Alison. “Is rugby safe for children?” DNA. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
Rigby, Mikey. “American Football is Rugby for Wimps.” Bleacher Report. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
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