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Expanding horizons: Girls rugby initiative targets sport’s growth

Abby Chong / The SPOKE

By Abby Chong, Staff Reporter

On Feb. 7, Rugby Pennsylvania began a new initiative, Emerging Girls Rugby, to encourage the creation of school-sponsored rugby teams throughout the state. The organization designed the Emerging Girls Rugby program to help establish 25 rugby teams in Pennsylvania schools. 

Once the organization reaches its goal of establishing 25 teams, Rugby Pennsylvania will apply for an emerging sport status from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Currently, there are only nine schools in the state that have an established girls’ rugby program and 10-15 schools with club-based programs.

Brittany Vegso, the coach of the Conestoga girls’ rugby team, is involved with Emerging Girls Rugby and provides mentorship and guidance to local schools interested in forming rugby teams.

“We’ve gotten quite a lot of interest,” Vegso said. “I can’t speak to the exact number of teams that are getting off the ground this spring, but I know there’s a couple in the works.”

Vegso hopes that the new program will broaden the accessibility of rugby to high school players statewide and believes it will serve as a way to grow the sport.

“Rugby in general empowers players both physically and mentally. It makes them better people on the field and off the field (and) makes them leaders and decision makers,” Vegso said.

Junior Paulina Yang, a three-year member of the rugby team, believes that expanding rugby programs will provide a gateway for more girls to experience the sport’s inclusive and enriching environment.

“Offering it all over Pennsylvania would be good for girls everywhere who are like, ‘Oh, I’m scared to join a sport because I don’t think I’ll be able to run fast enough,’” Yang said. “It’s a really good way for people to get involved and just have fun while exercising.”

Yang believes that official recognition as an emerging sport will not only elevate rugby’s status but will also help provide young athletes with opportunities to play rugby after high school.

“Not a lot of people know that rugby has so many opportunities that you can access just by playing it,” Yang said. “By becoming an emerging sport, it’ll offer so many young girls the ability to play such an amazing sport.”

Yang encourages others to join rugby and said that one does not need prior athletic experience to excel in the sport.

“I’ve played a lot of sports in my life, but I really feel like rugby is the one that honestly anyone can play,” Yang said. “It’s so inclusive. No matter how tall, short, fast or athletic you are, there is a place on the field for you.”

Abby Chong can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Abby Chong
Abby Chong, Co-Sports Editor
Abby Chong is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. She enjoys covering sports games as well as writing sports articles. Outside of the newspaper, she plays competitive softball and participates in Conestoga's stage crew and marching band.