I Just Learned Some Things about Rugby (and I’m Going to Learn More Tomorrow)

The Arctic Foxes rugby team. This is what hardcore looks like. Notice the ice pack.

The Alaska Oosik Rugby Union is holding their Mother Tucker Rugby Tournament on Saturday the 22nd at Davis Field in Mountain View, and in sitting down to write about the event, it’s come to my attention that I’ve lived with a captain and a coach of the Arctic Foxes Women’s Rugby team for five months, and I know nothing about this game of not-football.

Fortunately, I’ve taken the opportunity to be schooled on how rugby works and what the Arctic Foxes have been up to out in the field, and I am here to enlighten you with my newly-acquired knowledge.

  1. Rugby is going to take over the world. Rugby is currently the third-fastest growing sport in the United States (behind softball and ice hockey), and the Rugby World Cup is apparently the third most popular sporting event on the planet after the World Cup and the Olympics. If you want to stay looking cool, I’d recommend you get familiar with scrums and line-outs ASAP. (Like, at Saturday’s tournament.)

    Rugby: It’s that intense.
  2. There are fat kids and there are skinny kids, but sometimes there are skinny fatties and fat skinnies. Rugby is hardcore. You could get a hole ripped in your face or get your arm broken on the field, but there is no one body type that is ideal for the game. You might have the big kids up front during a scrum, but then you also need the little folks who can be picked up for a line-out and who have the speed and agility to get ball where it needs to go. Incidentally, The Arctic Foxes are now accepting fatties and skinnies (and in between) of all ages to join them, and no experience is necessary!
  3. Rugby can set you up for life. If there are three words you can say that will unlock untold doors for you in this world, they are “I play rugby.” Okay, maybe that’s pushing it a little, but seriously, because the Rugby community is so small (but growing!) compared to those of sports with the word “ball” in them, there’s an instant connection between players that can set you up with anything from free drinks to a place to stay. Arctic Foxes coach Issa Braman studied in Germany, and her rugby connections set her up to travel across Europe for a song. Just think of the possibilities!
  4. Rugby is about more than competition. There is a huge social aspect of Rugby, and teams often care more about having a good time than about cutthroat competition. For example, if one team is short players on the field, the other team might offer to “whore” (that’s some more technical rugby lingo) some of their own players, including veteran team members, to the other side to even things out. Additionally, after a match is over, both sides go out to celebrate together. The home team usually buys for the visitors, and any rivalry from the field is dropped to have a good time. There are songs and rituals, and it gets a little secret society-ish, but it’s all in good fun.
  5. Arctic Foxes rucking for One Anchorage!

    Rugby players are good with kids.
    Though the Rugby season is mostly during the summer, the Arctic Foxes are out in the community throughout the year. As a team, the women have volunteered for a variety of causes, from Trick or Treat Town to last week’s Faster Than a Falcon 5k, both of which benefit the Boys and Girls Club; to making calls for the One Anchorage equal rights initiative during campaign season. Also, during Pride Week, keep your eyes peeled, because the Arctic Foxes will be hosting a hike up Flattop on June 5th. Everyone is encouraged to join them as they plant a giant rainbow flag at the top for all of Anchorage to see.

    Which brings us to our last point…

  6. Not all rugby players are lesbians. I wanted to include this because that seems to be the perception. I asked Issa about this stereotype, and while she acknowledged that there is a lesbian component to parts of American rugby culture, it is not a gay-only sport. Anybody is welcome to play, and Issa’s take on it was that Rugby is a sport, and that there are a lot of lesbian athletes. It’s more about skill and how much of a team player you are rather than whether you’re gay or straight.

If your mind was blown by all this knowledge, come see some rugby in real life to give it some context! Though Saturday’s tournament starts at 10 am , the Arctic Foxes will be playing their Fairbanks rivals, the Ravens at 12:40pm at Davis Field. Come cheer them on and find out why rugby is on its way to world domination!

If you’d like to join the Arctic Foxes or get in touch, check out their Facebook page or email them at arcticfoxesrugby@gmail.com.


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