Vail Women’s Rugby ready for its first season
'We're official, but we could definitely use more people'
It took one year of living in the valley for Abby Loucks to help fill a void she saw needed filling.
After competing against men locally and traveling two hours to Denver to compete with a women’s team, Loucks was tired of commuting.
“But I love rugby,” she said.
And, “When you have more than one person, it’s a lot easier to get something going,” Loucks said.
With the help of Nicholle Jackson, the two helped launch Vail Women’s Rugby.
The first-year team is registered with USA Rugby, “so we’re official, but we could definitely use more people,” Jackson said. “Experience not required.”
So far, the Vail Women’s Rugby team is made up of 12 women, just starting their practice schedule heading into a summer season. The team practices at Ford Park in Vail and is looking to play against teams in Denver and Boulder as well as tournaments in Steamboat, Breckenridge and Aspen.
“We’ve got one of the best views of any rugby field I’ve ever played at,” Loucks said.
‘There’s a spot for you on the field’
While both Loucks and Jackson are experienced rugby players — having played for teams in the Northeast before coming to the valley — some on the team are first-timers, and the two are adamant it’s a sport for everyone.
“You’ve got to be tough because it’s a physical sport, but it’s a sport for every body size and shape,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t really matter how small or how big you are, there’s a spot for you on the field.”
Jackson said she’s 5-foot and 110 pounds. Loucks said she’s got about 10 inches on Jackson.
“But she can still take me down,” she said. “I’ve played on a team in Boston with a woman that was 50 years old and she tackles with the best of them. There’s really no age limit, it’s just the mental limits you put on yourself.”
As with any rugby team comes the rugby culture.
“That’s very typical of rugby culture — you play together, you drink together, you socialize together. And that even goes for the team you tried to beat up on the field,” Loucks said. “We’re working adults and some of us are moms, so there’s a lot to juggle but we try to have fun together.”
The local men’s rugby team has been around for about 30 years and serves as a pipeline to the professional team in Denver, Loucks said. However, a rugby team in the mountains for women has been lacking, Jackson said, which is a shame because of the power of the game.
“It gave me confidence that I didn’t know I had,” Jackson said. “I think it does that for a lot of women, too.”
Tackling, they say, can be intimidating, but not overwhelming.
“While it might be a little bit scary to think about tackling at first, it’s so much fun to learn and I think really empowering,” Loucks said.
The youngest member on the team is just out of college and the oldest is in their 30s, Loucks said, adding that she learned the game after being a rower in college.
The skier is from Bend, OR. and also races in the Super G.