"I am a rugby player" is not a statement one might expect from a lady. The stereotypes associated with the sport leave little room for women, and instead they conjure up images of grotesquely overgrown men grunting and bleeding as they attempt to decapitate their opponents. But, as in other sports, women are breaking through the traditional views and rugby among girls and women is growing fast.
The University of Calgary is keeping up with the times, and in Fall 2000 the U of C women's rugby team will step onto the pitch for their second season. Coached by Jenny Vincent and Carolyn Whitburn the team will restart training in early September, and play through the Fall and Winter semesters. Vincent is this year's coach of the Alberta Women's under-19 team while Whitburn held the post last season. Vincent also coaches the women's side of the Saints Rugby Club in Calgary and Whitburn coaches the rival Saracens. When the club season is over the two come together to coach at the U of C.
The team's goals this year are improvement and getting varsity status, something they were not able to achieve last year. But with a full squad of eager players and an experienced coaching staff, the club hopes to become an official university team very soon.
The main competition for the rugby women will be the same as last season.
"We'll play the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge a lot," said Whitburn. "We'd like to get varsity status for the upcoming season so we could play in the Canada West tournament along with all the other teams from our area."
The U of A and the U of L already have varsity status and the Pandas won the national championship in their inaugural season last year. Calgary is encouraged by the success of their neighbours and they hope to duplicate Alberta's achievements when their time comes.
"There is certainly a lot of room for improvement," Whitburn remarked. "But myself and coach Vincent are happy with the turnout and the results we had last season."
"Hopefully, 2000 will be another good year for rugby at the University of Calgary."