Girls varsity rugby preseason helps to prepare team



Girls varsity rugby team practices began in December and were held every Monday in the gym and consisted of various weight-lifting exercises. Senior and co-captain Zoe Raybould said she believes the practices are vital to keeping fit for the rough season ahead and building community

As the weather gets warmer and spring sports creep around the corner, more teams begin their pre-season practices. Many athletes dread climbing the hill of getting back into shape, but as laughter and smiles emerge from Tappan Gymnasium, the girls rugby team apparently has embraced the climb.

The team practices, which began in December, are held every Monday in the gym and consist of various weight-lifting exercises. Senior and co-captain Zoe Raybould said she believes the practices are vital to keeping fit for the rough season ahead.

“Rugby is a dangerous sport. There are ways to make it less dangerous, such as using the right form and strengthening our muscles in the offseason. Injury prevention is a major goal of the practices,” Raybould said.

While preseason practices physically strengthen the team, Raybould said they also work to create mental confidence within each player.

“You have to be confident enough to go out there, and the coaches say effort is 90 percent of what you do. You obviously have to build strength and form, but putting in that mental effort is so important to rugby,” Raybould said.

Senior and co-captain Samantha Dickerman said that since rugby is a team sport, she and her teammates benefit from preseason bonding, as it creates more fluidity on the field.

“This time during the offseason is the only time we all get to see each other, and it’s such good bonding. It definitely helps when the season comes around: the closer everyone is, the better everything goes,” Dickerman said.

Raybould said that many people who have never played a sport join rugby, so the workouts, which are open to new players, serve as a way for everyone to get to know each other and the atmosphere of a team before jumping into the season.

“It’s so nice to have such a tight-knit community and supportive group. If I ever have a bad day and I come into the gym, I’m surrounded by such positive energy, and I feel so much better. It’s not only helpful for the season, but it helps us to navigate high school in general,” Raybould said.

Freshman Abby O’Halloran has never played a high school sport, and she said she feels the upperclassmen have been welcoming to the team.

“The upperclassmen are better at rugby and know what they’re doing can be intimidating, but they’re so nice that it doesn’t matter that much, and we laugh and have fun,” O’Halloran said.

When deciding on a sport to play in the spring, O’Halloran chose rugby when a friend recommended it. In the past, the extreme and competitive nature of some sports made them difficult for her to enjoy, so she felt comfortable joining a sport with other underclassmen.

“In the past, I had stopped enjoying the sports I was doing, and I wanted to do something a lot of people were new to. I thought it would combine some of the things I had done before, so I decided to join.” O’Halloran said.

Dickerman said that gameplay is improved when she and her teammates are closer both on and off the field.

“I think being in a supportive and close community makes playing rugby a lot more comfortable. It is almost entirely mental,” Dickerman said. “Knowing that if you go to tackle someone your teammates will be right behind you, supporting you, is so important to your own confidence.”