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Girls ready to SWARM

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Rugby club looking for more players

By Dan Johnson

Growing up, Sara Edwards tried her hand at a lot of sports.

But, it wasn’t until she found rugby while attending Chatfield Senior High School that she found her calling.

Nine short months after taking up the sport, Edwards was playing on the U.S. under-19 girls rugby team.

“I was playing soccer before that and was always getting carded for being too aggressive,” Edwards said. “Once I found rugby, it was the perfect sport for me.”

Edwards is now passing on her knowledge of the sport to aspiring rugby players. She’s coaching the Southwest Area Youth Rugby (SWARM) girls team, which is comprised of girls from Chatfield, Columbine and Dakota Ridge high schools.

“Rugby is such a great sport because it’s a sport that anyone can play,” Edwards said. “There’s literally a position for everyone. You don’t have to try and fit into a certain mold; rugby players come in all shapes and sizes and all are equally important to the team’s success.”

Edwards says that what makes SWARM unique is the fact that it’s a melting pot of girls from different schools.

“When you play traditional sports, you’re almost taught to dislike certain schools because of the rivalries that are in place,” she said. “With our team, girls from Columbine and Chatfield play side-by-side and they become friends. I think it’s a great way for them to branch out and meet new people.”

For those not sure what rugby is, it’s a game that pits two teams of 15 players against each other. An oval-shaped ball (somewhat similar to a football) is used and can be passed, ran with and kicked to score points. Play is pretty much continuous aside from halftime breaks and setting up scrums – where players from both teams line up shoulder-to-shoulder and battle for possession of the ball.

Rugby is growing in Colorado, with 22 boys teams and 8 girls teams (although there could be 10 girls team this season) currently in place. Rugby is classified as a club sport but is petitioning to be Colorado High School Activities Association-certified in 2010.

Being a club sport makes things difficult at times, like trying to find available space to practice and money to pay for equipment.

“We have to raise the money ourselves,” said assistant coach, Tom Ren. “If there’s a fund-raiser out there, we’ll do it.”

Last season, SWARM (which began in 2006) was comprised of all freshmen, aside from one senior. With the freshmen now sophomores and a year of experience under their belts, Edwards is confident the returning players can bring the new players into the fold.

“The experienced players really take the new girls under their wing and are like little assistant coaches on the field,” said Edwards, who stressed that interested players do not need to have prior rugby knowledge or experience to play. “There’s no division on the team; everyone gets along and it’s very fraternal.”

The SWARM team practices twice a week, with games on the weekends. Practices begin in August. For more information, contact Edwards at swarmrugby@msn.com or visit www.swarmyouthrugby.com.