Undefeated women’s club rugby prepares for inaugural home tournament

Women's club rugby will host its inaugural home tournament on April 23 at the field behind the Baylor Sciences Building. Photo courtesy of Shannan McFarlane

By Joe Pratt | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

While many Baylor fans are looking forward to football’s spring game, that’s not the only sporting event taking place on campus this Saturday. The recently established women’s rugby team prepares to host a championship tournament on the pitches by the Baylor Sciences Building. It will be the first time this team hosts a tournament, and it’s just the third tournament of its inaugural season. Head coach and Baylor alumnus Thomas McAdam previewed the slate of games in place for this weekend.

“We actually got permission to add a second rugby pitch,” McAdam said. So for this tournament, we will be running two fields at one time, which is going to be kind of exciting and fun, a new endeavor basically. But from 10 a.m. until about roughly 4 p.m., there will be rugby games going on, and they could be friendly games, [or] they could be championship games.”

Baylor already has a men’s club rugby team, which McAdam played on during his time as a bear. The men invited some of the girls out to play touch rugby, a far less violent version of the real game. Glendora, Calif., senior Madi Vincent was with them from the start, being one of the first few girls to join the boys at the field next to Fountain Mall. Vincent’s brother was on the men’s team and was a part of starting the movement back in May 2020.

“I just asked people to come and play if they wanted to, and then sure enough people started showing up to Fountain Mall,” Vincent said. “Then we were like, ‘Wait, we’re actually kind of getting some traction here, let’s go for it.’ Then more and more people started showing up, and then we went to the McLane Student Life Center, to campus recreation, and we said we want to start a team and we started the team.”

After almost a year and half of planning and gathering support for the team, a women’s rugby team was established in August 2021. The mother of one of the players and a superfan for the girls, Shannan McFarlane, touched on how far these women have come since those scrimmages on Fountain Mall.

“They’ve just been playing with the boys, trying to learn the game,” McFarlane said. “When they had their first games this year, they didn’t even know the rules or know how they were going to do, so it was amazing how well they actually did.”

The Bears played their first games in January and are undefeated with a record of 6-0-1. McAdam said he was astonished by the team’s immense success in just its first season.

“I expected for us to have at least a year of trying to figure out how we play together before we knew how to play together, but the girls surprised me,” McAdam said. “It surprised me and my assistant coach. We both went to the first tournament expecting the worst, but came out of it ecstatic. We were both so proud and so happy because they went above and beyond what we had expected and just killed it. They killed it.”

In the two events that the team has participated in so far, Baylor has outscored opponents 164-10. A few of the girls on the roster earned rugby honors before the season even started, trying out for the National Collegiate Rugby all-star team back in January.

“I sent three of the girls over to do tryouts and all three of them made it to the all-star team for Texas, and played and won the championship,” McAdam said.

The Bears play their first game at 10 a.m CT on field one against the University of North Texas, followed by an 11:15 a.m. matchup against Texas State University. They then square off against LeTourneau University and the University of Texas. The championship game will be held at 4:40 p.m. to cap off the single-day tournament.