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Broken Arrow Express


B.A. Girls Rugby Team is Best in the Nation

By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer

DOMINATING: The Broken Arrow girls rugby team won the national championship over the summer with a 53-0 win in the Championship Game in Tenessee.


Photo by MIKE MOGUIN for B.A. EXPRESS


Last summer, Broken Arrow made its name known when its high school girls’ rugby club team won the national championship.

The team did it with a 53-0 win against Grandsville, a team from Michigan, in the title game that took place in Tennessee.

The sport is not sanctioned by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association or affiliated with Broken Arrow High School.

The team did not consist entirely of girls who attend Broken Arrow High School. There were those who attend schools from all over town. One even traveled from Arkansas to be on the team.

The team’s three captains were from the Broken Arrow area – Paige Grossi, Chase Stephens and Jessica Laughlin. While Laughlin graduated last spring from BAHS, Grossi and Stephens graduated from Lincoln Christian in Tulsa.

Two other teams exist in Oklahoma. One is in Bixby and another combines Edmond and Yukon.

Beyond the playing field, the friendships and travel are two factors enjoyed by the players.

“It was really cool to get to know people from different places,” said Stephens, now attending college at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond. “Honestly, I stuck with people I knew my whole life and rugby gave me the chance to meet people from everywhere. I have friends from the Cayman Islands because we played against them. It’s crazy with all the people you meet.

“Even on our team, there were so many added personalities and beliefs,” Stephens added. “So, it was really cool to get to meet people from Arkansas, just the fact that they would drive all that way was so cool.”

Rugby is known to have similarities to football, except there is no padding. But, there are a number of things are different.

“Definitely the tackle,” Grossi said. “Football players have a tendency to tackle with their hands, while rugby is shoulder contact.

“Also, in scoring and in continuous play, where in football you stop the timer every time the ball is down. But, in rugby, there is continuous play and as few stoppages as possible. Points are scored by going into the tri-zone and placing the ball controlled down on the field, or, kicking a conversion kick or a trial kick through the uprights,” Grossi said.

“In football and rugby, people don’t understand that the rules and regulations are different,” Stephens adds. “There is a big difference in rules but there is not a big difference in brotherhood or sisterhood type of stuff that you have in any sport.”

The community is one thing Grossi has said she enjoys within the game.

“It has enabled me to travel to so many different places,” she said. “This summer, I was part of a 2½-month residency program down in Arkansas and we traveled all across the nation, as I did with the high school team. Now, I’m doing the same with college. So, it’s definitely allowed me to see so much of the states.”

Stephens is currently recovering from shoulder surgery. But Grossi and Laughlin are continuing at the college level respectively at Davenport (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Lindenwood (St. Charles, Missouri) Universities.

What do they believe rugby has taught them the most?

“Our coach always said the word camaraderie,” Stephens said. “It was just the friendships you built through rugby, because it is just something not everyone gets a chance to do, so, like statewide, nationwide, it’s like you make friends so easily. It’s so hard to relate to people that play other sports.

“Definitely leadership and patience,” Grossi said. “Because there are many times an attitude will be demonstrated on the field that is not appropriate, and learning how to deal with that, especially since it is such an aggressive sport, keeping your temper in check and your attitude right is definitely a huge aspect.”

Grossi believes that in the future there needs to be more advertisement for rugby because it is such “an amazing thing. But, it is so under-advertised that not very many people know what it is or even that it is available,” she said.

“I think our coaches did an amazing job supporting us, despite a few hiccups and a lot of drama, and that was amazing to see,” Grossi said.

Updated 11-16-2018

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