Cougar Women’s rugby dominates despite club status

Jonah Simental | Evergreen club sports reporter

Traditional gender roles don’t apply to the WSU women’s rugby club. While the stigma is that women typically participate in sports associated with beauty and grace, these girls enjoy tackle and scrums.

Women’s rugby at WSU has grown in the last couple years into a team to be reckoned with. In their last contest, the Cougars came out victorious against Oregon, 36-24.  

Fourth year rugby club member Shelby Mastroianni previously played high school club rugby for the Kentwood Crusaders under Coach Rex Norris, who is also the head coach of the Kentwood High School football team.

“There’s a position for everyone, whether you’re slower but strong or whatever, we’ve had stick skinny girls play wing, there’s a bunch of different strengths that can be applied to each player,” Mastroianni said.

Last season, the Cougars went on to win the 2013 USA Rugby Women’s Division-II Collegiate National Championship with a blowout win against Winona State, 60-5.

“We’ve been successful consistently for at least the past five years,” Mastroianni said. “Rugby is a competitive female sport, which can get more men to come watch. It’s a mix of football and soccer so there’s always action happening.”

Senior and club president Noehly Tzintzun has been with the team for five years and has been a vital part of the recent club championship seasons.

“It’s a unique sport. I don’t think there’s any other type of atmosphere where you have each other’s back like in rugby,” she said. “You bleed together, sweat together, lose together, rugby is rugby.”

Second year club member Maddie Boyes grew up riding horses and going camping with her family, but nowadays she is working toward becoming a veterinarian. For her, the family-feel that rugby provides is part of what makes it so fun to play.

Boyes said that she is always working to improve in rugby and become a better athlete.

With the sisterhood mentality, the WSU women’s rugby club has worked and triumphed against almost every team in the Northwest. The Cougars’ national success has even benefitted the USA Women’s Eagles rugby team.

Cougar alumnae Ashley Kmiecik and Megan Bonny along with current student Anne Peterson have previously been on the Eagles’ roster for international matches. Yet with such success, the women’s rugby team members still can’t get what they work hard for: acknowledgement as a varsity team.

“It’s upsetting how hard we work and how accomplished we are, and to see the lack of funding that we get even though we put so much time and effort into the club,” Mastroianni said. “Working concession stands, wheat fields, car washes, we do it all and to not be recognized is kind of disappointing.”

The Cougars will play against Oregon State at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Valley Playfields.