Photo by Luke Graham
Katie Furnivall tries to break a tackle Saturday at the 38th annual Cow Pie Classic rugby tournament. The Steamboat Women's Rugby team made its debut Saturday, finishing 1-2.
Steamboat Springs Nothing calms the nerves like getting hit.
In the case of the Steamboat Women’s Rugby Club, the nervous energy before making their debut at the 38th annual Cow Pie Classic rugby tournament on Saturday was squashed pretty early.
“One of the girls said after they made their first tackle, the rest was easy,” founder Anne Zoltani said.
And what a debut the Green and Pink made.
Steamboat, with only a few players having previous experience, went 1-2 on Saturday.
The team beat Wyoming, 13-10, in its first-ever game, before narrowly falling to more experienced teams from Boulder and Denver in the afternoon.
“People were nervous and excited,” Zoltani said. “I really think it was a positive energy.”
Zoltani, who had previously played in Boulder, always had an interest in trying to put together a Steamboat side for the Cow Pie.
So in mid-April, she got together with some girls and started to put the plan in action.
The team started practicing twice a week with the help of coach Julian Bristow. Several girls went to Boulder to get in a game, but for most, Saturday’s tournament was their first.
“It’s definitely cool,” Zoltani said. “We had 20 people ready to play in the first game.”
It wasn’t just that the team showed up either. It looked like it belonged.
After winning the first game, Steamboat had every opportunity to beat Boulder. A late try was thwarted when the referee stumbled into a Steamboat player on her way to tying the game.
Then against Denver — the prohibitive favorite coming into the tournament — Steamboat lost just 10-5.
“I’d never played a team sport,” said Katie Furnivall, who scored Steamboat’s try against Denver. “But I fell in love with this. The team camaraderie is amazing.”
Furnivall, who ran track growing up and rock climbs and snowboards now, said she was nervous before the first tilt.
But the first time she got the ball and ran away from girls, those nerves dissolved.
With the development of the team, it’s on course to stay.
Zoltani said she hopes more girls come out, and she thinks that next year they might play 15s.
Saturday girls’ teams had 10 on each side.
Take it from players like Furnivall who had never played before. Rugby, she said, is for everyone.
“It really is,” she said. “We need girls of all shapes and sizes. We need quick girls and strong girls. We definitely need variety.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com