By Ray Wolf
It’s not unusual for Siskiyou County high school athletes to continue playing sports when they move on to college. Some play for community colleges, a few play for a university, and many play a club sport at their college. However, it’s a bit unusual when one of those athletes decides to play rugby. Former Butte Valley Bulldog Lizzie Struble discovered rugby, and she’s loving it.
Struble plays the Prop position for the University of Nevada, Reno Wolfpack women’s club team. UNR reached the Division-II national sweet-16, where they fell to Cal State Northridge in overtime, 41-32.
I’ve known Lizzie for several years and thought it might be interesting to find out a bit about how she became involved in rugby, and to get her views on the sport. There may be several terms folks aren’t familiar with in the questions and answers below, so here’s a link to a glossary of rugby terms: Glossary of Rugby Union terms.
What made you decide to start playing rugby?
The team had a booth set up at orientation this summer and my uncle and brother play and so I thought it would be a fun thing to do. I’ve been playing sports forever and I knew I would enjoy still being involved in a sport in college.
What is the best part of playing rugby?
The best part of playing rugby is all of the traditions. I love that after the game, win or lose, we go out with the other team and celebrate. We sing songs that are known by rugby players all around the world and it’s just a great feeling to be having fun with the people you just beat up on the field.
What is the most challenging aspect of the game?
When I first started playing, the most challenging thing for me was just learning how to play a new sport that was like nothing I have played before. Rugby is such a complicated game with so many rules and it was hard to keep up in the beginning. Now that I understand the game and know how to play, the most challenging thing is pushing through the pain and making it to the end of the match.
What specific skills or abilities are important to play your position of prop?
As a prop in the scrum I need to be strong and I need to be able to control it. Our coach has us try and turn the scrum a little to put our flanks and 8-man in a better position and to put the other team’s players in a bad position. As a forward I need to try and make as many tackles and hit as many rucks as I can to try and save the backs from doing it.
Who has helped you the most or had the biggest impact of your rugby playing?
My uncle who plays rugby has helped me a lot as well as my brother. They give me tips on how to be better and encourage me a lot. It’s also nice to be able to just talk about rugby with them since not a lot of people know very much about it. My parents were looking up the rules the entire way to my first game. They are learning quickly though.
When you’ve already played 70 minutes of a match, and you’re tired and bruised, how do you motivate yourself to keep going for the final 10 minutes?
The last ten minutes or so of the match is often the hardest, especially when we are losing. It’s the second half of the second half and everyone is exhausted and hurting. If we are losing I think about how bad I want to win and I push myself as hard as I can. If we are winning I think about how great it would be if we scored another try to win by even more and I push myself just as hard. (more…)
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