GS Women’s Rugby: beating the odds against stereotypes

Chyna James

In the simplest form, “football without the pads” or “football on steroids” is what it’s known for. Rugby started as a male sport but women all over the world now play the sport as well.

“How can you play that sport? You’re a girl.” Is what the players on the team get asked the most. They choose to answer that on the field.

The Georgia Southern Women’s Rugby team is following the legacy of the sport and they have several bumps and bruises to show for it.

With a student coach, continually proving others wrong about their work on the field, and learning about themselves and their teammates, they keep one thing in mind through everything- their passion for rugby.

Passion and Confidence

The women on the rugby team have so much love and passion for the sport. It’s what drives them on the field.

President and veteran player, senior international studies major, Paloma Trujillo, found out about rugby at GS’s Eagle Incentive Program (EIP).

Growing up with the sport, she had always had in the back of her mind that it was an obscure sport for women.

“My rugby experience has been life changing honestly,” Trujillo said. “Ever since I came to college, I needed to find an outlet because I needed to find where I belonged.”

With the stigmas associated with college and the pressure to look a certain way, rugby teaches the players to be comfortable in their own skin.

Head coach and team captain, junior political science major, Meghan Serafin also found that Rugby was the sport for her as soon as she came to college.

“Having that support system of all these girls together building each other up was great for me to find that and it’s taught me to be a leader too,” Serafin said.

Before playing the sport, the players didn’t feel nearly as confident as they do now, having been surrounded by like-minded individuals.

“One of the things that rugby really helped me appreciate is my strength and my body,” Trujillo said. “Rugby taught me that I am beautiful just the way I am. My strength physically is my strength mentally.“

Hannah Twilley, senior and electrical engineering major, has played rugby for the last two semesters. She found what had made GS the best fit for her.

She is a transfer student who used to play softball but no sport gave her the same feeling as rugby.

“When I came here I didn’t feel like Georgia Southern was home until I played rugby,” Twilley said. “I feel a lot more confident physically and I feel like if I can learn this game I can do anything.”

What matters to them is winning the game and improving as players. Whether it’s on or off the field, they’re always looking to get better.

“The qualities that I have currently are going to help me on that field. They’re gonna help me win games and support my teammates and that’s the most important thing,” Trujillo said.


Women and men’s rugby have the exact same rules. They play with the same ball sizes. The players are motivated off of the many underestimations of the sport that people think only men can play.

“It’s really empowering playing the exact same sport and it’s great for confidence,” Serafin said.“I can do anything a man can do.”

Rugby players are able to still befriend one another- even if it’s a player of the opposite sex.

“You will never find people like you find people in rugby. Ruggers are amazing,” Trujillo said. “They’re so diverse. It’s about the amazing friendships and connections you make.”

Many of the players have learned that the team is not a “stereotype.” If you’re willing to play then they want you to do just that.

“Its fun, its a good sense of community and it’s about the game but who you’re around too,” Twilley said. “It’s not about fitting in. We’ll accept you for who you are. We’re a team. We’re a family.”

Student coach

The rugby team isn’t exactly like other sports on campus because for one they don’t have a paid coach. It is common for schools to have a paid coach but at GS the rugby coach is a student.

“I feel like the team looks up to me and it’s definitely a lot of pressure but I think i’ve been handling it well,” Serafin said.

The team had coaches in the past but they’ve all went on to do other things.

“It was pretty much just me left -not necessarily thrown in because I definitely wanted it but I was the option,” Serafin said.

Statesboro’s location has a lot to do with why there is no formal coach.

“It’s hard to find someone who wants to come all the way to Statesboro,” Serafin said.

Other schools are working to try and get the school an official coach.

“A lot of what we rely on is natural talent but it would help if we had a coach,” Twilley said.

Rugby is for everyone

Rugby is for everyone of all shapes and sizes. There is a position for every body type for anyone who wants to play.

“We have this saying in rugby. Rugby–picking the fat kids since 1908. Because people feel like they’re not good enough,” Trujillo said.

The players feel that what gets overlooked is that people don’t want to try it because it may be too tough – especially women.

“People don’t think they’re worthy of playing a sport like that. [A sport] so tough but in reality you need to be yourself,” Trujillo said.

The biggest thing is not giving up on something before you even try it out.

“You have people beating each other up on the field and after you’re helping each other,” Serafin said. “The comradely is absolutely incredible better than any sport I’ve ever been in.”

Twilley says that it It’s a different world and everybody is just accepting overall.

Gearing up for the last game

The last game of the season is March 4. The team doesn’t know who they’re playing yet or what time because it hasn’t been decided by the conference yet.

“It reminds me of the first day on the pitch and how intimidating it was and thinking it wasn’t for me,” Trujillo said.

For some, the end of the season means the last game of their whole collegiate career.

“I just want to put every thing I’ve ever learned. Every single emotion I’ve ever felt and I want to take it to the pitch. I want to give it 110 percent and hope that’s enough to just.. Win,” Trujillo said.

Twilley proved her hard work with a swollen hand and an invitation to compete for a spot in the upcoming all star game.

Four players from each team were selected from each team in the conference and one other player besides Twilley made it and will be going to play in an all-star game.

Her goals apply to the last game and her all star game as well.

“I just want us to go as a team and just enjoy it, have fun,” Twilley said.

Clemson was highly ranked in the nation and they were able to beat them.

“Georgia Southern made a name for us this season and we’re definitely going to try and keep up that reputation,” Serafin said.

Photo courtesy of GSU Women’s Rugby website.