PERFECT PITCH

Rugby is one size fits all.

In a time when everybody seems to want to stick everybody else into neat little demographic boxes and keep them separated, sports are the wild card — the great unifier.

And rugby is no different.

The six young women who come together a couple of evenings each week to practice behind The Sanctuary church are far from homogeneous. They don’t fit neatly into one box.

Some are experienced rugby players. Others have never played an organized sport before. Some drive pickup trucks. Some drive economy cars with child seats in the back.

But they are all Sirens.

The Southern Indiana Rugby Club was chartered in 2011 by Dave Jones, who had been the longtime girls high school coach for the Columbus Rugby Football Club (CRFC). Jones said he sought to create a “truly judgment free environment to play as well as create more competition in the Southern Indiana area.”

As it turns out, there was no place in Southern Indiana for women to play after high school. There were only three women’s rugby clubs in the state — the Indy Hoydens in Indianapolis and two Northwest Indiana squads, the Indiana Exiles and the Illiana Misfits.

The Southern Indiana Rugby Club’s women’s team, the Sirens, will be the fourth. They’re scheduled to begin their inaugural season April 9 against the Indy Hoydens.

But the Sirens can’t go into action with six girls. Though the team would ideally like to have 22 members so it can field a full team for a regular 15-on-15 match, it’s setting more modest goals for its first season. Just getting enough to play sevens rugby this spring is enough.

“We have six players right now, and we would be playing sevens rugby, which is where you have seven players on each team, so we only need one more girl for that game,” explained Karlie Query, the club administrator for Southern Indiana Rugby Club and the first player to come out for the team. “And we still have a couple of weeks to build a skill set for that one person, whoever she may be.”

“We are really looking forward to adding new players,” Jones added. “The more, the merrier.”

The Sirens are part of the Indiana Rugby Football Union, the statewide governing body, and are hoping to add more matches to their spring slate. This spring, time is being set aside for friendly (exhibition) matches that will allow the less experienced players to gain game experience and hone their skills.

Each of the current Sirens took a different path to their practice field — but they all got hooked on the sport for similar reasons.

Query had been competing in sports for a long time before she found rugby. She was on the cross-country and track teams at Columbus East, and even went out for the wrestling team as a freshman before reality set in.

“That’s when I realized that girls just can’t keep up with the guys once they hit puberty,” she said. “It’s impossible. I tried.”

Once she caught a glimpse of rugby, she was all in.

Likewise, Sirens team captain Taylor Miracle was immediately drawn the first time she watched a friend play for the CRFC’s high school girls team. She wound up joining the team and serving as its captain for two years — and when she heard there was an opportunity to continue playing, Miracle jumped at it.

It’s not just the excitement of the sport itself that lured Miracle in, she says. It’s the bonds that rugby, by its very nature, helps to create.

“It’s the team,” Miracle said. “You’re a family. It’s not like in basketball, you have your point guard that makes all the shots or whatever. In football, you have your quarterback that gets all the credit. You need your whole team to win a game. You need your whole team to score. It’s a support system, and it’s all about respect.”

Rugby: the basics

Scoring

Try (5 points): When the ball is placed on the ground in the area between the opponent’s try line and the dead ball line.

Conversion (2 points): A kick at the goal following a try that passes between the goal posts above the crossbar.

Penalty or drop goal (3 points): A successful shot through the goalposts and over the crossbar on a penalty or drop kick. On a drop kick, the ball must hit the ground between being dropped and being kicked.

Terminology

Forward pass: When the ball fails to travel backward on a pass. If the forward pass is ruled intentional, a penalty is called. If it is not intentional, a scrum ensues.

Maul: When a ball carrier is held up, but not tackled, by both an opposing player and a member of his own team. Other players can enter the maul, but only from behind their hindmost teammate.

Pitch: The term for the field, which is 100 meters long by 70 meters wide.

Ruck: Formed when the ball is on the ground and two opposing players meet over the ball, most frequently after a tackle. The two players compete for the ball by attempting to drive one another from the area and to “ruck” the ball backward with their feet.

Scrum: When the eight forwards from each team form together and push against one another. A scrum is formed if a team commits a minor infraction or if a restart in play is required.

Interested?

Any women who would like to play rugby can contact Southern Indiana Rugby Club president and head coach Dave Jones at southernindianarugbyclub@gmail.com.

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.