Rhinos Hone Skills During Relaxed Spring Season


Anne Chege

First-year Beth Minahan runs through a tackle in a tournament at Hiram College. The Rhinos will face Tiffin University in the Bishop Bowl on April 26.

Grace Barlow

The women and trans*inclusive rugby team is gearing up for the stretch run of its spring season. While the Rhinos’ official season is in the fall, the team continues playing friendly matches in the spring.

The Rhinos are coming off an up and down fall season, in which they went 2–2.

This semester, the team competed in a tournament at Hiram College on Saturday, Feb. 22, as well as a friendly match against the Kent State University rugby club. The February tournament resulted in two wins and one loss for the Rhinos, good enough to place them third out of six competing teams.

Sophomore scrum-captain Kaïa Austin said she was thrilled with the performance. “Every person in the line scored, which was great for the team,” she said.

Last weekend, the Rhinos took on Kent State University, which resulted in a 59–0 loss for the team. Despite what the scoreboard showed, the team was pleased with its performance against a team that consistently competes in the national tournament.

“We don’t feel too bad, despite the huge disparity,” Austin said. “We made them work for it and played really well.”

As the team gears up for the last leg of its spring season, it hopes that what it learns now will carry over into future years.

“Retention is key,” Austin said. “We’ve had pretty high turnover, which is great for team numbers, but not all of the players have playing experience.”

First-year Beth Minahan echoed this sentiment. “It’s hard to come in not knowing a lot about rugby, which can be discouraging, and retention would be key to fixing that,” she said.

Without a coach, improving can be difficult, but sophomore Ellie Flessner is optimistic about the team’s ability to secure one.

“We’re looking for options,” Flessner said. “There is a possibility of a coach from a men’s club in Cleveland, which would be great for the team.”

In addition, the Rhinos are looking to increase their members’ commitment athletically. “I’d like to see the team united through athletics, as well as the social aspects,” Minahan said.

The social aspects of the team, such as the inclusion of trans* people, have been key to the club for several years, and serve as a uniting factor for all players. The Rhinos have historically led the way for trans* inclusion with regard to Oberlin sports and require a trans* allyship workshop for all players on the team.

“We really strive to make everyone feel comfortable on the team, regardless of their gender identity,” Austin said.

“The role of safety coordinators — players that anyone on the team can reach out to if they feel unsafe in any way — on the team is really important,” Flessner said. “We hope that anyone who doesn’t identify on the gender binary feels comfortable.”

The team will wrap up its spring season in the coming weekends as it travels to face Tiffin University in the Bishop Bowl on April 26. The Rhinos will then finish with a home game against the University of Akron on May 3.