The Ottawa Wolves are creating a queer-friendly women’s rugby team in the nation’s capital.
The Wolves are entering into their fifth season as a rugby club and their fourth season competing in the Eastern Ontario Rugby Union as a Division One team. The club focuses on encouraging participation in rugby for “those who have traditionally been under-represented in the game.” The men’s team is mostly gay, but it’s open to everyone. The women’s team is being created with the same intention.
“When it comes to rugby, a lot of people laugh and joke that women’s rugby teams are mostly gay anyway,” says Mary Jeffries, head coach of the Wolves men’s team and a long-time rugby enthusiast who initiated the new women’s team. “It’s kind of funny because it’s not really true. I’ve been on a lot of teams where there’s a very small percentage of gay women. Like one or two out of 25. So, to have a lesbian club with some straight women on it will be fairly unique.”
The Wolves have been spreading the word about the club’s burgeoning sister team through social media channels and big community events like Capital Pride and Winternude.
“We’ve got a bunch of people who have never played rugby before — who have never even seen rugby before,” Jeffries says. “Any woman that has interest is more than welcome to come try it out. You’ll learn the basics, and we’ll do everything safely. There are more injuries in ultimate Frisbee than in rugby.”
As of now, 17 women are interested in the new club, but about 10 more players need to join in order for the team to compete in the league this year.
“We’d need a minimum of 15 each day,” Jeffries says. “But because it’s over the summer, and there are sometimes injuries and a lot of other stuff that’s out of our control, we look to have about 25 women or so to make a really solid team. Of course, more than that is always welcome!”
Kim Stewart is a new member of the Wolves women’s team. She has attended every practice since January and says she’s definitely hooked on the game.
“I like it a lot,” Stewart says. “I haven’t played team sports probably since I was seven years old, and it’s really different to be part of a team. I know it sounds cliché, but there really is that sense of camaraderie. I enjoy the physical aspects of it, too. I had broken my foot back in the summer, and I just got my cast off in November, so I was looking to get back into shape.”
Jeffries encourages women of any skill or experience level to come out and give rugby a try. She adds that all body types are needed for different positions on the field, so everyone can contribute, regardless of age, size, strength or stature.
“You don’t need to be a certain shape or size to play rugby,” she says. “Age is not a factor, either. Come out and give it two weeks and see what you think. No hard feelings if you decide it’s not for you. I fell in love with the sport as a woman, and I think other women will fall in love with it, too. There’s a camaraderie there with rugby teams that you don’t see a lot in other sports.”
As soon as the ground thaws, the Wolves will begin outdoor practices. They take place every Tuesday and Thursday evening, from 6pm until dark, at Springhurst Park on Lees Avenue.
To get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.