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Defending the Arch – Storming the Arch 2019

The Hellbenders gathered in front of Cloister for “the Storming” in a mass of black clothes, and excitedly prepared to tackle our classmates. Our beloved veterans Catnip, Onyx, Simba, Bambi, Chambers, Brady, and Tigress have been training us in tackling, wing lines and pulsating squats, (most importantly) and we have become more than a team already. As a new rugby player, Storming of the Arch feels like the starting point of an exciting season of unknown moments of empowerment. As we chanted our perfect and intense chants before the Storming, I felt the sense of our collective power as a whole. It was a little nerve wracking lining up before the other freshmen stormed, which is ironic because we were the ones on defense.

 Still, I felt like I was being confronted, like the freshmen going through the Arch are symbolic obstacles of learning moments of the season ahead. Well, to me at least since I haven’t played a sport that involved hand-eye-coordination since I was four years old. It was fun, but also made me realize how much I might panic at a real rugby game. I tackled one person, and hope to tackle many more in the upcoming years. It was a blur of running people, which was a bit disorienting since I’m not used to trying to take people down a herd of people on a normal basis. The pride of tackling someone is a great feeling, and I didn’t think I would ever experience it.

Our team has become something special and indescribable already because I think we can’t be easily defined. That is something I love already about rugby- its unapologetic ambiguity. It’s a little bit like soccer, and a little bit like football, with a lot of other strange ruled. Our vets have mentioned before how rugby is for women of all sizes and builds, and that openness is how they approach all aspects of practice. By being patient and supportive, they have made this an experience to be part of.  Instead of a team, we are more like a perfectly timed chaos of amazing people coming together at this moment by some beautiful coincidence. I honestly can’t wait to see what we manage to accomplish and find within our own strength this rugby season.

The fact that we get to have such inspiring and devoted veterans is something I’m so grateful for. There are so many rookies on the team (including me), or ruggers (I guess we can call ourselves ruggers now?), with such unique personalities and ability to become so coordinated and involved- which makes our team vibrantly chaotic. These veterans are teaching us how to be competitively confrontational and supportive. They are the reason I joined the team, but now I see that their quick, talented, caring personalities are reflected on the field, and I can’t wait to see how we can become who we are outside of rugby in each game.

-Louise Finnstrom ’23