Skip to main content

The Carleton Rugby Team is the Best Family

Kelly shares her experience joining the Women’s Club Rugby team at Carleton.   

Kelly shares her experience joining the Women’s Club Rugby team at Carleton.   

Before coming to Carleton, the only thing I knew about rugby was that my dad’s friend lost an ear while playing. Last summer, one of my housemates, Will ‘22 (who is about to embark on a Fulbright to Azerbaijan!), played on the Carleton men’s rugby team. He assured me that he had never seen someone lose an ear playing rugby… yet. Obviously this was not enough encouragement for me to join the sport quite yet. However, after getting to play with coaches for the Harlequins (a professional team in London) on my Sports and Globalization Off Campus Studies Program, I was hooked. 

The Game

Coming back from my OCS trip I reached out to one of the captains of the women’s team, Izzi ‘22. They gave me all the information necessary to join. Unfortunately, rugby is a very complicated sport with rules and physical elements I was not used to. There was definitely a learning curve! Fortunately, the captains and coach (yes we have a coach!) were very patient with the beginners.

Playing in my first rugby game was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Sure, I had played competitive soccer and other sports growing up and at Carleton. However, I had never before stepped onto a college field with a scoreboard and announcer no less, having very little clue what I was supposed to do but knowing I was certainly going to get slammed into.

My team was playing Macalester College with some St. Olaf College students filling in gaps on both teams. Instead of taking advantage of the inexperience of some of our players, the other team and sir (the ref in rugby) used the game to teach new players about rugby and show us what a great community the sport has. My parents were visiting that weekend and came to the game. They were ecstatic to see me! We all had huge smiles on our faces, even in the pouring rain. 

Rugby in the rain
A fun fact about the team is that founded in 1978, Carleton boasts the first women’s rugby club in the state of Minnesota. The photo above shows our team talking during half time at our game against Macalester.

PE Credit

A perk of playing on the rugby team is that I get PE credit for our practices and games. I have fulfilled my PE requirements through a number of avenues. These include playing on the club rugby, tennis, and karate teams. I also completed a coaching practicum on my Off Campus Studies (OCS) trip. If sports are not really your thing, you can do activities such as yoga, running, dance, scuba diving, weight lifting, and more. The PE credit should not be something that deters you from Carleton. I have gotten to play sports with multiple professional teams and coaches (including cricket!) because of the PE credit. These amazing experiences would not be possible without Carleton’s PEAR department and PE requirement.


The biggest perk of club rugby is the friends that I have made. The people I have met on the team are beyond supportive on and off the field. The captains would (and have) literally give their players the clothes off their backs if we asked. At the end-of-year banquet, the captains put together individualized awards for every single player. It was such a thoughtful and caring gesture, especially considering it was finals week and they were busy trying to wrap up their senior year.

A thing I love about the team and Carleton in general is that first-years through seniors can all be friends. The upperclassmen on the team went out of their way to make the first-years comfortable and to explain the “hidden curriculum” of higher ed in an academic and social sense. The men’s and women’s teams also work closely together, sharing equipment and planning events together. I have appreciated joining rugby’s supportive group of individuals who give their all on and off the field. 

Rugby breakfast
The rugby team is such a close knit bunch that we even have rugby songs we sing together! One of my favorite lines from our songs is the title of this blog, “The Carleton rugby team is the best family,” because it embodies the strong sense of community present on the team. The photo shows my team out for breakfast.

Alumni Connections

One of the best examples I have of the community found at Carleton and on the rugby teams is a story about an alumni named Tom. Tom generously reached out to our teams asking if anyone wanted the opportunity to play rugby over the summer. Since I knew I’d love to learn the rules better before fall season comes around, I said yes. I. Tom took that and ran with it! Fast forward a few weeks and I am now practicing with a professional team in the Twin Cities. A professional team! I just started a few months ago!

If that was not intimidating enough, I learned after practice last week that I had been doing a drill with one of the members of the US National Team. On top of this awesome experience I was able to get due to the Carleton Rugby Alumni connections and name recognition of our team, the alumni are paying for my membership fees and gas money to drive to and from the cities twice a week for practice.

In Sum 

Macalester and Carleton Rugby
Evidence of the friendly rugby community—Carleton, Macalester, and St. Olaf ruggers after our game, cheering each other on. After the game we sung the St. Olaf fight song to thank their players for coming out to play with us.

Joining this team completely changed my Carleton experience. Going into spring term I was in a rut. Being challenged physically by a new sport and socially by all the events the rugby team puts together has been beneficial. It has pulled me out of the rut and made me excited to walk around campus with my new friends in my rugby apparel. After practice one day, the coach of the professional team stopped me and encouraged me to keep coming to practice. He said that one day I am going to look back on my decision to join the Carleton rugby team as one of the best decisions of my life. I think he might just be right.

Kelly (she/hers) is a rising Senior from Downers Grove, IL. She is a Psychology major with minors in Music and Cross-Cultural Studies. Kelly has explored her academic and personal interests at Carleton by participating in the Social and Personality Psychology Research Lab, playing the cello in the Carleton Orchestra, and studying abroad on the Carleton-run Sports and Globalization Program in London and Sevilla. Outside of the classroom, Kelly spends her time working as a Resident Assistant, playing rugby and soccer, volunteering with Project Friendship, and reading books. Meet the other Bloggers!