Rugby teams compete with aggression, heart on field

Women’s rugby teammates (left to right) Jillian Stariha, Yuliana Garcia, Maria Sano, Carolina Casillas, Hanna Oshana, Erica Bauer, Amanda Gagliano and May Nir. Photo: Stephen Ragalie

Joining the UIC men’s and women’s rugby teams gives you a chance to get fit, compete as part of a team, hit people and be social.

“It is the cheapest club on campus,” said men’s rugby team president Jackson Hill, a junior in graphic design.

“And the only equipment you need to play is a mouth guard and cleats.”

Rugby, a full-contact 15-on-15 sport, involves laterals and kicks meant to progress the ball down the pitch. The ball must actually touch down beyond the opponent’s tryline. Another way to score is to kick the ball through the opponent’s goalposts.

With the spring season coming up, now’s the time to sign up for the teams.

Although fall season is the sport’s main season, playoffs, regionals, nationals and spring tournaments are organized by the Chicago Area Rugby Football Union for the men’s and women’s teams.

Players can join the teams year-round.

The women’s rugby team was undefeated during the fall season, advancing to the playoffs.  A point of pride for the team was beating rivals Loyola, 57-29.

When asked what they liked about rugby, UIC’s female players had a variety of reasons:

“We’re like a family.  We’re aggressive on the field, but we’re softies off the field.”

“Sometimes we barely have enough people to play, but we still win”

“We’re the prettiest rugby team and we’re undefeated.”

Rugby is a sport that’s made for anyone, said Maria Sano.

“Size is not an issue, anybody can play and even if you have no experience it doesn’t matter — most people that come are new to the sport,” said Sano, a sophomore in bioengineering.

Checkout the group’s Facebook page for more information on joining or email team captain Jillian Stariha at

The men’s team is looking forward to the spring season after finishing 2-3-1 in the fall.

Indoor training for the team takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays in the MAC gym at the Student Recreation Facility.

“We have 23 members now, but we are going for 45 so we can run scrimmages in practice,” Hill said.

“A lot of people say it’s dangerous, but it’s not as dangerous as football because people know they have no pads so they are not going to use pads as weapons.”

There’s mutual respect between the rugby opponents, Hill said.

They may be enemies on the pitch, but when the match is over, opposing teams meet up for a social.

“You don’t need to be an all-star athlete,” Hill said. “We like to run around, hit people and have fun.”

• Stephen Ragalie is a senior in English.

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