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The Best Team You Haven’t Heard Of

Despite a national ranking of 6th in the small college division, the Ohio Wesleyan Women's Rugby team is still fighting for recognition. A growing number of players and the growing confidence of this team have the program headed in the right direction.

Being a club team means that the program doesn’t get the same attention, or even funding when compared to varsity sports on campus. In the spring of 2023 the team traveled to nationals, and this was the first time that they felt they had the attention of the school.

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With a program like this, funding goes a long way, especially in a sport as physical as rugby. Team captain Shannon Lang ‘26, said she wishes they had more funding from the school “to support and buy us important items like concussion testing, extra mouthguards, and even warmups for the team.”

Overcoming these obstacles, the program is building very quickly, and a lot of this has to do with the increased exposure brought by going to nationals. This has brought a type of excitement around the team, including actively recruiting high school students.

Looking to follow up last year's success is hard, but it is something the team looks forward to. When asked about the upcoming season Shannon said,

“This upcoming season is about learning and teaching our new players the game we all love. We have a larger team compared to last year, it's exciting to have some subs and be able to learn a lot from our coach Phil Payne, and my teammates. I believe when 7's season in the spring comes around, we are going to be a very confident and skilled team to play against.”

Being a student athlete at any level is very difficult, especially in college, but the one thing that makes it easier is the bond between teammates. Obviously, they will spend a lot of time together at practices or other team events, but it's the relationships grown off the field that truly transform players.

“Joining this team made me immediately feel like I belong to a family. My teammates are some of my best friends and being able to be out on the pitch with them and playing a sport we all grew to learn and love is even better. The atmosphere is so welcoming and so supportive outside of just playing rugby. I could not recommend it enough to those who are nervous about joining a team and have never played rugby.”

Student support is still something the team is working on attaining, through the use of advertising themselves and the sport itself. According to Shannon, “rugby is such an amazing sport, I think everyone should come to join or watch us eventually.”

One opportunity for students to support the team will be this Saturday, September 30, when the team will host their home tournament. The tournament begins at 10 a.m. on the grass field across from meek Aquatic Center.

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