From Las Vegas to Victoria, the team has competed in big tournaments
In the last month, the Cougars men’s and women’s rugby squads have travelled to Las Vegas, Nevada and Victoria, British Columbia to ply their trade on the national and international stage. First, they competed in the Las Vegas Invitational – self-described as one of the “premier amateur rugby events in the United States” – and then heading westward for the National University Sevens Rugby Championships.
University of Regina music education student who plays prop for the squad, Christie Westbrook, says that it is the sense of community that really attracts her to the sport.
“Once you meet someone else who is a rugby player, it’s almost like family you’re just automatically friends. It’s nice. I like being part of the community.”
Westbrook says that the mostly club-centric rugby environment allows for the Cougars to be in a premium atmosphere.
“It’s almost like all the club teams get together to form one team, so it’s unreal just to get a combination of everybody.”
Not only did the trip to Las Vegas allow for an excellent sporting experience, it also afforded the U of R’s players the chance to see some of the best Sevens players in the world. This opportunity was because of the layout of the tournament, which runs parallel to the USA Sevens International Rugby Tournament, a competition that pits some of the best teams in the world – including the likes of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa – against each other.
One of the biggest challenges for the team was getting the funds to go to such an expensive location. Second-year team member Westbrook detailed all of the ways in which the team had to try to fundraise.
“We honestly fundraise our butts off. We do bottle drives, we have a booster night at Boston Pizza. It’s a lot of work, and we even did a Christmas tree thing in the winter where we were hauling Christmas trees for money. ”
With the men’s team placing third in Vegas and the women placing eighth out of fourteen teams in Victoria (they finished last the previous year), the team had some tangible success this season. Some new faces could be seen on the field during the campaign and the team battled some adversity after going down to nine players on the final day of the Las Vegas tournament, leaving them with only two substitutes.
In addition, just like any sport, the rugby team is always looking for more members. To those who may feel uneasy about jumping headlong into a sport that is often portrayed as extremely violent, Westbrook had this to say.
“Just come out to practice; come see it, check it out. Everyone’s usually pretty welcoming, especially to new faces. When I first wanted to start out, it was the same thing. I had no idea. I had this concept that rugby was this hard-hitting sport where people are barbarians and they fight on the field, but that’s not it at all. It’s a great community to be a part of.”