Men’s rugby team welcomes woman player

For the first time ever, a woman is taking the pitch with the W&L rugby team.


While she can’t compete in games this year, Lima said she hopes to start a women’s club rugby team next fall. Photo by Caroline Blackmon, ‘19.

Caroline Blackmon

Many of us watch sports on television, especially this summer with the Olympics, and wish that we could be half as talented as the athletes who compete. Juliana Lima, ’20, decided that she would play rugby at Washington and Lee, regardless of the fact that they only have a men’s team.

“I enjoy playing on an all-guys team,” she said. “It’s definitely a different experience from what I’m used to, but it’s a new challenge and it’s really exciting.”

Lima accidently came across rugby on televi- sion one day and thought it was a sport she could learn how to play.

“I’ve played soccer my entire life, so it’s nice to switch things up,” she said. “I really enjoy it.”

Captain Thomas Cain, ‘17, said that the team was really excited in her interest in being involved with the team.

“Having her at practice was definitely interesting; I didn’t know what to expect,” Cain said. “After talking with her and once we got into drills you could see she really wanted to learn and play the game.”

During the first few practices, the team focused on making sure the new players knew how to do simple passing drills and were comfortable with the rules of the game. According to Lima, they usually end practice with a practice scrimmage, though it’s not full-contact.

“Juliana mixed in really well into all the drills with the new players and fit into practice really well,” Cain said.

Lima said that, at first, she was nervous to join because she wasn’t sure if she would feel involved.

“But, the guys on the team are really awesome and really inclusive,” she said. “They make me feel like part of the team.”

Overall, the team has competed against several colleges across Virginia, including Hampden- Sydney and Emory & Henry. Except Lima is not allowed to play in the games.

“She cannot play games with us because we are technically a men’s league,” Cain said. “She is always welcome to come our practices; we enjoy her practicing with us.”

Lima said she figured that there would be certain limitations to her joining a men’s team.

“It does kind of suck not being able to play,” she said. “But, I’m thankful they let me practice with them and learn how to play the game.”

Until then, she’s going to also start practicing with the women’s rugby team next door at Virginia Military Institute. Her first practice with them is Wednesday evening.

Lima is thrilled to be able to practice with the VMI women’s team, just so she continues to build her understanding of rugby so she can possibly start a women’s rugby team here next year. For now, she’s going to start a women’s soccer club and see how much interest she can drum out.

“I don’t really have a favorite part,” Lima said. “I just enjoy being able to go out and learn to play a new sport that really interests me.”