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The IUP women’s rugby team has been a powerhouse program for years, often being nationally ranked. 

The nationally ranked IUP women’s rugby team endures lack of support from the IUP community.

The IUP women’s rugby team is entirely self-ran with a board of nine officers supervising most decisions, including accepting or declining game matches, reserving field time and handling finances.

President of the women’s rugby team, Destiny Weiser (junior, special education), manages team meetings, team paperwork, social media, delegating tasks to officers and the representation of the team’s image.

The team is also responsible for coaching itself with the help of alumni Yanny Houlihan and Alina Withers.

“When I say we’re self-ran, I mean we do almost everything ourselves,” Weiser said.

The women’s rugby team’s impressive track record consists of an undefeated streak in 2018 and 2019, ranking across the nation as seventh in Division II. They lost only one game in 2020.

Despite being a nationally ranked team, there are downsides that come from being a club-based sport.

Financially, the rugby teams must fundraise for equipment, including their own uniforms. The Co-Op helps with gas reimbursement, but their main supporters are those of family and alumni.

Both rugby teams receive generous support from Marty, the owner of Al Patti’s.

In a normal season, the women’s team practice outside or using the Co-Op gym at least daily without access to a field house for training, which could drastically affect the members’ fitness levels.

“Being a nationally ranked team with barely any support from IUP is very discouraging for us,” Weiser said. “We love this school and all the experiences we have had here, but not feeling that love back from the community doesn’t feel great.

“We just want to feel noticed and appreciated by the school we’ve proudly represented.”

Club sports are not as acknowledged or supported by the IUP community, so the burden lies on the members of these clubs to promote, obtain budgets and funding and train the new members brought in by the former members; however, that speaks toward their records.

“I can’t speak for the other clubs, but our team practices just as much, if not more, than most of the school teams in a normal season,” Weiser said.

“We would also just like to get recognition for our accomplishments; whether it’s a club sport or a school sport, everyone is wearing the same school on their jersey. The only difference is that the club sports’ accomplishments often go seemingly unnoticed by IUP.”

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about issues with recruitment. With in-person events like IUP Day and Winter Warmup, the standard for gaining new members consisted of around seven to 10 players, but the pandemic forced the team to rely on social media to find interested people.

“As a women’s rugby team, it’s difficult to recruit because we have a stigma of being ‘too rough’ for girls, yet we are constantly thought of as ‘weaker’ [or] ‘not as hard’ as [men’s] rugby,” Weiser said.

The women’s rugby team would most appreciate the community’s support in attending their games and participating in their fundraisers.

For current information regarding the team, its social medias are the most updated on Instagram at scooterrugbyiup, Twitter at iupwomensrugby and Facebook at IUP Scooters Rugby.

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