Simpson takes the rugby field

by J.C. Blomstedt

Several Simpson women have come together to play rugby in Des Moines.

They are part of a team called the Des Moines Women’s Rugby Team, which practices and plays its games in West Des Moines. In its first two games on March 19, the team lost to Wartburg but beat Palmer Chiropractic College.

The rugby league the team plays in has spring, fall and summer seasons. The current season began in February and runs through May.

Rugby is played between two teams of 15 players with an oval ball. It’s played on a rectangular field, 110 yards long, called a pitch.

The object of the game is to run the ball through the opposing team’s goal line or to kick it between its goal posts. The ball is moved through forward kicking and backward passing. Play is continuous and there are no timeouts.

Junior Melinda Gibson, who has played rugby for three years, said there are currently five Simpson students on the team. According to Gibson, since the season just started, the team is still looking for recruits.

Gibson also said she hopes to someday have an official Simpson rugby team.

“I know a few of us have been talking about trying to have a team at Simpson,” Gibson said, “I used to go to Wartburg and that’s where I used to play. I know Wartburg and Luther have a team … Iowa State, Grinnell, Northern Iowa, Iowa, all those schools have women’s teams. There are more that have men’s teams.”

Gibson said one problem with Simpson forming a team of its own is funding. The team would need sponsorship and insurance.

Freshman Jay Keller is in her second season on the Des Moines Women’s Ruby Team. She said the high level of involvement required of participants is another factor that Simpson would have to combat if the college decided to form its own rugby team.

According to Keller, finding at least 15 girls with the interest and willingness required for a three-season sport would take some time.

Keller has enjoyed rugby, even though it requires a significant time commitment. She said the competition and closeness between the participants makes it worthwhile.

“It’s really intense,” Keller said, “But there is a lot of camaraderie afterwards between the teams. We have socials after we play where the teams drink and eat together and there is just a lot of bonding between teams.”