Women’s rugby to expand for upcoming season

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    The TCU women’s rugby team is looking for new talent.

    Since the club team was formed in 2007, the start of each school year means the start of recruiting. 

    This year is no exception.

    The club has four returning players from last season but needs at least seven to form a full team, according to Kim McCleary, senior history major and club president.

    “We’ve had some girls come out for practice, we just need to make sure that they keep coming back,” McCleary said.

    Kiersten Hamill, a senior criminal justice and psychology double major, said she is excited for her final season with the team and remains confident that the club will find enough players.

    “At first every year it’s kind of a little slow, but usually we’re able to pick people up,” Hamill said.

    Neither Hamill nor McCleary had played rugby before joining the club team as first-year students.

    “The majority of the girls who join our team have no prior experience at all,” McCleary said. “I never played rugby in high school, I never even saw anyone play in high school. I just wanted to try something new.”

    McCleary, who ran track and powerlifted in high school, said she arrived on campus wanting to try something different. She found what she was looking for in rugby.

    While the women's rugby program remains small in numbers, McCleary said that is mainly because of the comparatively smaller size of the university.

    “TCU definitely has a small rugby community, but women’s rugby is definitely on the rise. It’s an emerging NCAA sport right now,” McCleary said. “If you go to other surrounding schools that we play, like Texas Tech, UT, A&M, Texas State, they have an immense amount of girls who are willing and ready to play rugby on their teams. They have the numbers simply because they are larger schools.”

    Yet the growth in the popularity of women’s rugby is not confined to Texas, or even the U.S. for that matter. Women’s rugby will be an Olympic sport for the first time at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    “I definitely think the sport will continue to grow for women’s rugby. Being in the Olympics is definitely going to make it even more popular,” McCleary said.

    Women’s rugby coach TeShay Flowers, who also coaches the TCU men’s team, said he believes McCleary is talented enough to be a part of the games in Brazil.

    “I’ll be honest, Kim has the potential to be an Olympian in 2016,” Flowers said. “I would love to get her on some representative teams and into the Olympic camps. She is a difference maker and if I can get the right players around her, anything can happen.”

    Flowers said his goal for this year’s women’s team is to make the program sustainable, which will only happen through recruiting.

    “I am hoping that we get a competitive team in time to make a run at a conference championship,” Flowers said. “At the heart of it all, I want to introduce these ladies to the great sport of rugby.”

    The women’s team practices every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the intramural fields alongside the men’s rugby team.

    The club will continue to recruit in hopes of forming a full team by their season opener, which is scheduled for Oct. 5 against Sam Houston State University.