Women’s Rugby Gains Varsity Status

Gaining varsity status

Dartmouth women’s rugby gains varsity status.

Dartmouth’s female ruggers are finally getting the recognition they deserve. The College’s athletic director, Harry Sheehy, announced that beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year, women’s rugby will become a varsity sport. The promotion leaves Dartmouth with 35 varsity athletic teams: 16 men’s sports, 17 women’s sports, and 2 coed teams.

Since Spring 2014, the Rugby team’s captains – Diana Wise ’15, Michaela Conway ’15, Becky Marder ’15, and Allison Brouckman ’15 – have been pushing for varsity status. Their greatest concern was that Dartmouth’s women didn’t have a full contact sport, while the men had hockey, lacrosse, and football. While there are women’s teams for the two former sports, the women’s versions are traditionally played with minimal contact, unlike the physical men’s leagues.

The petition was based upon a previous proposal from 2012, which was denied at the time. However, women’s rugby has grown exponentially in the past few years. In 2012, only 6 schools in the nation had varsity women’s rugby programs; now, that number has more than doubled to 14, and continues to enjoy a rapid growth rate.

Dartmouth is the third member of the Ivy League to give their women’s rugby team varisty status after Harvard and Brown. If two more schools upgrade their women’s teams to varsity status, the sport will have the majority necessary to be recognized as an official Ivy League varsity sport. Furthermore, if 40 schools across the nation adopt varsity women’s rugby teams, the NCAA will allow an official national championship, a coveted privilege among collegiate sports.

The future of Dartmouth’s women’s rugby team looks bright, and we at the Review will continue to cheer them on.