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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Women’s rugby speeding things up

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Western women’s rugby team member Morgan Olsen carries the ball ahead of her teammates. // Photo courtesy of Noel Keyes

Sevens rugby is not a typical style of playing the classic sport – it is a much quicker, and some say, a more exciting game.

A number of Western’s women’s rugby team members play this variant of the sport with the Chuckanut Bay Women’s Rugby team, which was founded in 2008 by a group of Western alumni in order to give women a chance to play after college.

Unlike traditional rugby, which has 15 players per side, sevens rugby teams are cut in half and players are required to take on multiple positions in order to fill the gaps made by less people on the field.

The game still has traditional positions like hooker and props, who act like the linemen, and the scrum-half who resembles the team’s quarterback. The remaining three players play hybrids of traditional positions and are required to be versatile and fast.

“It’s a lot quicker. There is a lot less taking the ball and trying to run through people with it,” said Morgan Olsen, a Western senior and women’s rugby team member.

Although the teams are half the size, sevens is still played on a full-size rugby field.

“When you have fewer people but the same size field everything is just sprinting and just happening so quickly,” Olsen said. ”You pass the ball and it has to be going a further distance and not just stopping with a lot of different people.”

The matches are also a lot shorter with seven-minute halves instead of the 40-minute halves in fifteens.

The Chuckanut Bay team is relatively new – it was founded in 2011 but is gaining popularity. While Western only offers fifteens rugby, the Chuckanut Bay team serves as an outlet for Western rugby team members to experience a different kind of game during the offseason. Some rugby players prefer fifteens because they like less running, but Mallory Ogburn, a Western women’s rugby senior, said that she thinks that makes sevens more fun.

“There are women in their mid thirties playing with 20 year olds, but it’s really fun because it is a different group of people than 18-year-old freshmen,” Ogburn said.

While many still appreciate and love the original style of rugby, some fans are leaning towards sevens as a fast-paced and high-scoring alternative to the traditional game. 

“Sevens is a lot more, I think, spectator friendly, especially if you don’t know rugby,” Olsen said.

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