UNIVERSITY OF FINDLAY rugby player Abby Walters, center, fends off opponents during a spring match. (Photo provided by University of Findlay)

University of Findlay

Some of the toughest, most resilient students play on the University of Findlay women’s rugby club, as evidenced by its recent success at the national level.

The club placed ninth out of 16 participating teams at the National Small College Rugby Organization’s 7’s tournament held in April. One of the teams UF beat was Colgate University, which won the 2017 tournament.

UF’s team is comprised of about 20 members with different backgrounds and experience levels. Some played competitive sports in high school. Team captain Ashley Hoy was a cheerleader who is used to playing rough games of tackle football in the backyard with her brother and his friends.

Grit and teamwork are sport essentials. The game is similar to football in that players advance a ball down the field and can tackle opponents. One exception is that when tackled, a rugby player must release the ball.

Also, rugby players do not wear protective padding.

The game can therefore be physically grueling, which is why the UF women’s rugby coach, Jim Haughn, is big on consistent practices, which build stamina, strengthen camaraderie, and provide opportunities for snap decision-making.

“There’s a way to do tackling and running. It may look chaotic and random, but it’s not,” said Haughn, who has coached the club for four years, played rugby while attending Carleton College in Minnesota, and now is an officer of the Findlay Scars adult men’s rugby team.

Despite his years of experience as a player and coach, Haughn said the University of Findlay women’s rugby players have always impressed him.

As a club, rather than a varsity sport, players must find the time and inspiration to play, he said.

“They’re balancing academics, work, family,” he noted. “I’m just in awe of what these women do and the time they put into it.”

Hoy, a senior math major from Alger, said she has gained several close friendships from playing rugby, and leadership skills from being chosen as captain by her teammates.

“When I started, we had a scrimmage with Ohio Northern University. That allowed me to see what it (the sport) was like,” Hoy explained. She now helps recruit members.

Haughn said he enjoys teaching the dynamics of strategy that are necessary for playing rugby.

“Every time you take the ball in hand, you have to have a plan,” he said. “They (members) learn decision-making, being diplomatic with teammates, and how to change game plans on the fly when they’ve already run five miles and are just about ready to die,” he said.

The University of Findlay Rugby Club is part of the National Small College Rugby Organization. It plays home games at 11 a.m. on Kremer Field, located behind the Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex.

Its fall season began this month. Here’s the club’s schedule:

  • Today — Kenyon College vs. Findlay
  • Sept. 15 — Findlay vs. College of Wooster
  • Sept. 29 — Findlay vs. Tiffin University
  • Oct. 6 — Findlay vs. Denison University
  • Oct. 20 — Findlay vs. Wittenberg
  • Nov. 3 — Ohio Wesleyan vs. Findlay