By: Giovanna Forno

People are always asking me, “Why Rugby?”

This is my answer:

When I first walked onto the Sac State rugby pitch four years ago, at 5’2 and 19 years old, I was in the search of something new and challenging. I was at a point in my young adult life where I needed to prove to myself that I could grow beyond my own expectations; and Sac State’s Women’s Rugby Club was what I needed. Little did I know that I would become one of the thousands of American “Ruggers” who played rugby that year. According to economist.com, America’s Sporting Good Manufacturers Association (SGMA) found that approximately 750,000 people were playing rugby in 2009—20% more than in 2007.  As rugby became one of the fastest growing sports in our nation, it grew a special place in my heart.

With no prior experience in sports, rugby was the only sport I became to know and love, but it was definitely a change of pace, especially for a petite female. It took me a whole year and countless bruises and sore muscles to learn and understand the rules of  the game and feel comfortable on the pitch. I alternate between 2 positions: scrum-half and flanker, both of which I am very passionate about. I’ll try to break it down easily:

  • Rugby consists of 15 players on the “pitch” or field, at a time
  • There are 8 “forwards” who play the defense side with some offense included. The forwards are numbered 1-8 and in that order you have the Loosehead prop, Hooker, Tighthead prop, 2 Locks, a blindside-flanker, an openside-flanker, and finally the eight-man.
  • Then, you have 7 “backs” who play offensively with some defense tactics and in order go as the scrum-half, fly-half, left winger inside-center, outside center, right winger, and then the fullback
  • Games run 80 minutes long—40-minute halves, with a ten-minute break in-between
  • Many say rugby is a cross between football and soccer, and that is probably the simplest way to put it—kindly.

As a Division 2 Club, we have a big season planned ahead. Pre-season is filled with tournaments and League games will begin in February. We will be playing schools such as Humboldt State, University of Reno, UC Santa Cruz, Fresno State, and a combination of UCSF and San Francisco State. We are organized through USA Rugby, the National Governing Body for the sport of rugby. However, on campus, we are a student body run sport club, which allows a number of our players to become involves as officers. Community involvement is crucial to our club; every year, we volunteer at crab-feeds held by the Fire Department, where we are fortunate enough to raise money for our yearly expenses such as tournament fees, traveling, equipment, etc.

Participating in Sac State’s Women’s Rugby Club has been one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far and I recommend it to women of all ages (yes, there are adult leagues for women!). Now that I am 22 years old and approaching my fourth and last year of eligibility as a rugby player, I am determined to make the most of this season and play with no regrets. Rugby has given me the gift of friendships, leadership, and most importantly self-confidence and appreciation. Over-coming rugby was more than just playing a tough sport or about being able to fearlessly tackle and get tackled; it taught me that I have the potential to do anything I set my mind and heart on. The confidence I have gained through rugby has motivated me to keep working above my expectations in everything I do, both on and off the pitch.

If you are interested in following our club, visit https://www.facebook.com/sacstatewomensrugby for more information on our scheduled tournaments, games, and fundraising events!