Tuesday night the Iowa High School Rugby Association launched its single-schools girls 7s league, with three teams, Valley HS, SE Polk, and Clarke HS, playing a round-robin.
Valley won both of their games, 35-7 over Clarke and 35-21 over SE Polk, to win the night.
"The women leading this league will methodically grow the girls game in Iowa just like we have the boys," said Chris Draper, Iowa Youth Rugby Association Board Chair. "This league allows positive female role models to grow the next generation of accomplished female Iowan rugby players."
This league follows the hugely successful model for the boys league, with special rules set in to make it easier to paly, and an emphasis on 7s at the single-school level.
"We have seen tremendous growth on the boys side,” said Draper, who saw SE Polk go from forming last year to winning the state title. “Starting with 26 kids in 2010, we have efforts underway to produce viable teams in over 52 high schools across the state for the 2013 spring season. I have no doubt that the girls league will make that growth look pedestrian."
Already this small effort is producing players. While Polk boys player Zach Warren is now on scholarship at Life University, on the girls side Dakota Taylor was outstanding for her team, while Clarke scrumhalf Kylie German and Valley junior Meghan Munch have also shown great potential.
“Right before the girls walked onto the field, I told them all to have fun. Their nervousness was reflected on their faces, but I promised them: if you have fun, the rest will fall into place. It was clear on their faces throughout all games they had an absolute blast, and I'm so proud of them,” enthused IAHSRA Girls League Director Brandi Preul. “After they went home, the text messages I received read: ‘it was awesome, I already love it!’, ‘I love rugby! This is the best day of my life.’”
Preul said the girls that played Tuesday are pioneers.
“These girls are pioneers and proof that centralizing teams in this fashion does indeed grow the sport,” she said. “The complete buy-in from these parents show we are doing things right to shake the negative stereotypes about the sport we love and producing a product that reflects our concern for safety and the necessity of these rules we use.”
Rule changes in the Iowa league include no conversion kicks (so teams don’t need to have fields with posts), a free kick to restart the game after a try, and, because those rules make for a very fast game, two referees.