• What do I wear?
Rugby is a very simple game at its core, and thus is fairly low-tech when it comes to gear. We are a bit rough & tumble, so sturdy shorts and a t-shirt or sweatshirt you don’t mind getting dirty or ripped is the best bet. As for shoes, basic soccer cleats are just fine to start. There are special rugby shorts, jerseys, and cleats that you can buy when you’re ready or able; we recommend Rugby Ninja (located here in Austin) at www.rugbyninja.com. Finally, you’ll need to buy a basic mouth guard – be sure to mold it in hot water – before your first practice. Most department or drug stores carry these.
• Will I get hurt?
Rugby is fairly misunderstood in the United States, and the injury factor is one area of confusion. Yes, players get hurt playing rugby, in games and in practice. But all sports have a risk factor and rugby is very much in the normal curve. We do get different injuries than some sports, like broken noses or black eyes, but we don’t get the serious knee injuries or broken bones any more frequently than your local soccer or basketball league. WE TAKE SAFETY VERY SERIOUSLY, especially for our necks and heads. When we teach tackling, rucking and scrumming, we are always careful to teach proper technique to protect these areas. After all, we don’t get to wear helmets or pads right? So everyone’s safety depends on everyone knowing the proper technique. In addition, personal liability health care is required to play on any rugby team in the US.
• Who do we play against?
The Valkyries are members of the Texas Rugby Union (which is like a league or division) which then feeds into the Central Region 2 of USA Rugby. For the past several years, the Valkyries have been the best team in Texas, so we recently began playing in this premier division. This means that our regular schedule of league games is against teams from Colorado, St. Louis, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago, etc. We also play Texas teams from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio throughout the year, scrimmage college teams from UT, Texas A&M and others, and often host or visit other club teams across the nation for friendly matches. We try to schedule about 10-12 matches per year. Check out this year’s schedule here.
• When is rugby season?
We play a 9-month season broken into two parts: spring season begins in mid-January (when we’re glad we live in Texas) with games and training through May. We resume practice in mid-August or early September (when that Texas perk has faded a bit) and play, hopefully, through the National Championships in November. We are off for the winter holiday time.
During the summer, the Valkyries take a break but our summer 7s team – a version of rugby with only 7 people per team that emphasizes speed & quickness – picks up the rugby slack. Sevens can be a fun way to learn the basic skills of passing and running without the intense contact of full 15’s rugby. Email us at email@example.com for more details about Sevens.
• How much does it cost to play rugby?
If you choose to join the Valkyries and play games with us, you must pay club dues of $125 per half-season ($250 for a full year). This money covers the basic operating costs of the club (membership in our Unions, referee & field fees, equipment fees, etc). Each year every player also has to register with USA Rugby in what’s called a CIPP fee. The Austin Valkyries don’t want cost to be a reason someone doesn’t play. We work with each player and their budget to work out a manageable payment plan.
In addition to dues, we are constantly fundraising so that when the team travels the club can afford to pay for rental cars and hotels. Players are almost always responsible for purchasing their own plane tickets, but on good years we are sometimes able to offer stipends to players for travel. Our club Treasurer collects money and can work out payment plans with any player – we have a policy that you must pay at least some of your club dues before playing your first game, but we are also flexible and can work out a system that will work for your budget.
• What are the rules to rugby anyways?
Ah, good question. We will provide you a copy of a well-known “rookie primer” about the basic rules. You can also find this helpful & humorous document at http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~radrugby/rookie_primer.html. There are usually a few decent books on rugby rules in local bookshops, but you really have to just learn as you go – and don’t worry, it takes a little while to get it all sorted out so be patient with yourself. Lots of veterans will admit to not knowing all the rules every second of every game.
• Should I work out in a particular way to get ready or stay healthy?
Yes. There are two important things to train for when you play rugby: speed endurance & power/strength. Speed endurance means that while you need a good endurance base (running 2 miles at a medium jog shouldn’t ruin you), you REALLY need to be able to make short to medium length sprints over and over. So once you get that decent base, start doing interval running (jog, sprint for 30 seconds, jog to recover, sprint, etc), run hills or stairs (walk back down), or anything else where you change speed and recover while still moving. You can do intervals on treadmills, around your city block, or at a track. Power & strength means beach muscles are good (biceps that pop) but core, butt & leg strength is really more important. If you are already familiar with weightlifting, try to include squats, leg press, cleans and lots of shoulder/back work into your routine. If you’ve never lifted before, that’s fine too – just ask your coach or captains for some advice first. You’ll never know how strong you can be until you play rugby.
• What if I am under 18? Or, what if my daughter is under 18 but wants to play?
If you or your daughter is under age 18, it is still possible to play for the Valkyries, provided that a parent or legal guardian signs a series of waivers and agreements. If this applies to you, please contact our Recruiting Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Club President, at email@example.com, to make the proper arrangements.
There is currently one high school girls’ rugby in Austin at this time, for more details, check out Rugby Texas.
• What if I don’t live in Austin right now?
If you are thinking about moving to Austin in the near future, the Valkyries may be able to help you find jobs and places to stay. We are willing to tap into any and all employment networks that we can to find job opportunities for players looking to join our roster. For relocation assistance, contact our Recruiting Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The inspiration for this FAQ list came from New York Rugby Club’s website. Thanks to the New York women and Jessa Giordano in particular for allowing us to adapt their idea.