Junior Capella LaJuan has grown to love a sport that most wouldn’t bring up in the typical high school girl’s sports conversation. This sport is rugby.
Rugby has an old school physicality to it, characterized by a lack of padding or helmets. It is played with 15 players on a grass field and uses a point system fairly similar to a game that we know as football. The sport was created as a male-only sport, but in the past half-century, rugby for women has grown to be stronger and stronger. LaJuan has played the game of rugby from a young age and was introduced to it by her sister.
“I was introduced to rugby when I was in third grade,” said LaJuan. “It was my sister who was in a rugby club and I would always go to their practices after school. She was in high school at the time.”
LaJuan does note, however, that although rugby is not very common in the United States, it is fairly similar to the country’s most popular sport.
“It’s a game from New Zealand,” said LaJuan. “Basically it’s kind of like football, but it’s just a different way of playing from football.”
LaJuan has found a home to play the foreign game of rugby right here in Springdale.
“I play with a youth Marshallese rugby team,” Lajuan said. “There are many people on this team from different places, and it’s really cool getting to play with different people.”
LaJuan and her sister aren’t the only girls that play rugby and have grown a liking to the previously male-dominated sport.
“There are a couple girls I play with now. Some are hispanics and I also play with some Samoans and Tongans.”
The uniqueness of rugby is ultimately what drew LaJuan to the game.
“It’s mostly different from other sports that I have played,”said LaJuan. “Obviously there’s pain in this game but it’s worth it.”