Women Join Club Rugby for First Time


Kat Merisotis/The Bates Student

Lucia Hill and Mallika Jena, sophomores, have both enjoyed their experience joining the rugby team this fall.

You know them, you love them; the Bates Men’s Rugby Team has been a prominent club team for years, practicing each day during the fall and competing against the teams of other Maine-based colleges including Bowdoin College, Colby College, and University of Maine. 

For the first time ever, though, the team has gone co-ed, as a handful of women have made their way out to the field, and recommend that others should consider doing the same.

The team practices every day, from 4:20 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. on Page Field. As George Schouten, president of the club explained, the average practice consists of warmup, tackling drills, and touch rugby. They work to foster a competitive and collaborative environment on the field, but pride themselves especially on the familial atmosphere that they have created on the sidelines. 

Tim Hunter, a captain of the team, ends every practice with the same goal for the group: to say hi to all of your teammates if you see them in Commons. This welcoming and supportive atmosphere has led a group of women with a wide array of skill levels to find a home for themselves within the team.

“We had never played before,” Elizabeth McGrady, a senior member of the team, explained. “But the guys are super accepting and excited for us to join, because they really want a women’s program too. It’s the most welcoming group of people I’ve ever met in my life.”

McGrady and Julia Slayne 122 were encouraged to join the team this fall by a few friends who had also joined recently, and both remarked that their only regret is that they hadn’t joined sooner. 

Though these women went in with little knowledge of the sport, they quickly became well-versed in the drills, rules, and culture of the team. Although they are graduating this spring, Slayne and McGrady are determined to get a women’s program going and show the Bates community what rugby is all about. 

Unlike McGrady and Slayne, Lucia Hill ’24 has been playing rugby since her first year of high school, and came into Bates with the goal of continuing to do so. 

“It’s my favorite sport in the entire world, and it would be really cool to get to share that with other people, especially other women!” Hill expressed.

Hill joined the team this year with classmate Mallika Jena ’24. Though Jena had never played rugby previously, she was exposed to the sport from a young age growing up in Hong Kong, where rugby is, as she described it, “their version of football.” 

Jena has quickly found a passion for the sport and the team alike, and is excited to work with Hill towards their ultimate goal of forming a women’s team. 

As Hill put it, “Rugby is a sport for everyone. Every body type, every level of physicality, every skill, there is a position for you anywhere on the field.” 

Please contact President George Schouten with any interest or questions about the team at [email protected]. Lucia Hill can be reached at [email protected]