Reporting Lisa Fielding
(CBS) — You might not hear about women’s rugby very much, but did you know that there are dozens of leagues in Chicago and the sport was just reinstated for the 2016 Summer Olympics?
WBBM’s Lisa Fielding tells us how more and more young girls are getting involved in the sport.
Rugby is one the fastest-growing sports in the U.S, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. In recent years, more and more women are joining the team.
“The earlier we can get women involved with rugby the better,” says Jenny Lui, who plays rugby for Chicago North Shore and is training for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Paris.
Lui and girls from Rowe Clark Math & Science Academy were on hand to recruit more young women to get involved in the sport.
“It’s the only contact sport where the rules are exactly the same for the men and the women. With rugby you have the purest form of the sport. That’s really unique.”
Twenty-nine girls are on the Rowe Clark team, and they have seven teams in the league.
“They’ve been told all their lives they can’t hit, they can’t play football so this is a good opportunity for girls to get out there and be aggressive,” Head Coach Ryan McBride says.
The girls’ rugby team went undefeated as champions for three consecutive years.
“It’s a lot of dedication to it. You have to be on the top of your work. It’s fun and it’s a good opportunity for young girls to be involved in a team sport,” junior Candace Middlebrooks says.
Junior Erica Clayborn’s sister played rugby for Rowe-Clark before she did.
“It’s like football and soccer. You don’t have to be tough, but you have to try your best. It helped me with my weight, my energy and my school work,” she says.
The Illinois Youth Rugby Association is hosting a Girls Day of Rugby to increase the number of middle-school and high-school girls in the sport.
“It shatters the stereotype that girls need to do all these feminine sports or even sports in general. It’s nice to be aggressive in a positive way. It forms strong relationships and encourages teamwork,” says Therese Betzenhauzer, player for the Chicago Women’s Rugby team.
Lui and Betnzenhauzer will be on hand to talk to girls and families about the sport. Girls will have a chance to learn rugby skills and techniques and play non-contact rugby from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The clinic will be held at Olympic Park in Schaumburg. Admission to play is $10 and spectators are free.
“When young women find rugby, they get a chance to express themselves in a way that is very different than the way that they’ve been brought up to express themselves,” Liu says.
Rugby is the newest Olympic sport, reinstated for the Rio 2016 summer games.
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