Over the past decade or two, the emergence of women in sports generally considered to be part of the male domain has been growing by leaps and bounds. Hockey, boxing and other martial arts are just the tip of the iceberg however when it comes to even rougher sports such as rugby, women are still getting more and more involved, even if it means a bloodied nose or a few chipped teeth.
Among them are Rimbey ruggers Vivian Lynn and Alisa Schneider who helped the Alberta Under 17 Women’s Rugby Team who captured a bronze medal at the national championships held this past August in Ottawa. The two were selected to the team after prolific performances at the high school level.
“Team Alberta U-17 Women consisted of players from all over Alberta. Originally, we were invited to tryouts after being identified as leaders in our high school league. Close to 100 girls were invited to the camps which commenced about mid June. Out of these players, the final 25 were selected in mid August and included Vivian and myself,” said Schneider who spoke on behalf of her teammate.
“Vivian and myself both got into Rugby with the school team. I started playing two years ago and Vivian started playing three years ago,” she added. “Both of us were selected to play with the Red Deer Titans after having successful high school seasons. I was attracted to the sport after playing many years of high-level soccer and wishing for more contact. I watched my sisters play who also played soccer and talking to them it seemed like the rougher, more physical game was more fun and challenging.”
Despite the fact that rugby can be brutally rough and is generally played by muscle-bound behemoths of men, the notion that women cannot play the game at any sort of intense level has been blown out of the water. In fact, the young ladies say the rougher, the better.
“Not only can girls play rough, some of them are downright nasty and dirty,” Schneider said. “When the ref can’t see what’s going on there are often girls pinching and punching and stepping on hands with cleats. Throughout the season there are often a few broken bones but amazingly enough, not very many head injuries.”
As for the tournament itself, Schneider said it was a top-notch affair and although the team came oh so close to making it to the championship game and believe they would have had it not been for some questionable officiating, they said they thoroughly enjoyed the event.
“The tournament had nice facilities and was quite well organized. The weather was great although a little hot and humid at 34 degrees and near 100 percent humidity. The refereeing left something to be desired as we lost to B.C. in the semi final due to a referee not being in position to see a try and not willing to look at private video footage of the play,” Schnieder said. “To compound this, BC’s winning try in overtime was obviously offside. This cost us our chance to play in the gold/silver medal game against Ontario. Needless to say, we then destroyed P.E.I 41-3 and took out the last of our frustrations on Nova Scotia and beat them 34-0 to capture the bronze. The coaches congratulated us as last year our age group even didn’t qualify for the medal round. So all in all, it was quite an accomplishment.”
As for the future, Schneider admitted the opportunities to advance in senior women’s rugby are few and far between, but said she may consider taking a crack at another Red Deer-based team.
“Opportunities outside of high school rugby are somewhat limited at this time with a few Canadian university and colleges offering programs unless you’re able to get a scholarship to the US. The Red Deer Titans are a women’s Premier Division Team where some previous Rimbey high school players have continued on with the sport. It is also possible to continue on with the national team if selected, and also on the provincial U-19 team,” she said.