Photo provided by the Staples Rugby website.
Staples will have a girls’ rugby team this upcoming spring sports season. The team will be coached by Cassie Bishop, who plays for one of the strongest womens’ rugby programs in Connecticut throughout the fall and has coached youth programs for upwards of four years.
Sophie Lynch ’21, who has grown up in a family that loves rugby, has always wanted to engage in the sport but has never had the opportunity to play competitively. She thinks the decision to implement a girls’ team is an extremely important step to take.
“[The implementation of the team] creates a sense of equality in sports and is kind of breaking down a barrier for girls,” Lynch said. “It’s also important because it gives us a chance to play with people of our own size and level.”
Dave Lyme, who coaches the boys’ team and has greatly helped to expand and enhance the program, said that the creation of the team solidifies his work in growing Staples rugby.
“I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve over the past few years, very proud to grow the program and very proud of how the boys focus to achieve goals they set, all the while having fun and enjoying this wonderful game,” Lyme wrote in a statement on the Staples Rugby website. Members of the boys’ rugby team agree that having a team specifically for girls is beneficial progress for the Staples sports program.
“I think the [boys’] rugby coach really wanted to grow the program,” Owen Clarke ’21, who plays for the team, said. “I also know a lot of girls who have wanted to play for a while and felt they couldn’t on the boys team. Having this girls’ team will give them an opportunity to try something new and grow the athletic department.”
For the past three years, the Staples’ rugby team has been technically gender-integrated. However, the team has continued to be dominated by boys, and, while some girls have tried to play with the team, they have quit after going to only a few practices.
Hannah Propratna ’20 tried to play with the boys in 2018 but stopped after going to practice for three days.
“When I did it, it wasn’t too organized and some of my friends and I did it for fun,” Paprotna said. “But we weren’t that into it, and it wasn’t that official, so we decided against it.”