U.S. Air Force Women’s Rugby team takes home gold

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rebecca Sirimarco-Lang
  • 4th Fighter Wing

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – The Armed Forces Women’s Rugby Championship was held June 23-24 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The championship is held annually in conjunction with the Cape Fear 7’s Rugby Tournament. The combined Air Force and Space Force team competed against the Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Navy women’s rugby teams playing a variant of rugby called Sevens.

“Sevens is seven versus seven. [It’s] a lot of wide-open spaces and a lot more running and they narrow down the time two to seven-minute halves, so you're only out there for 14 minutes and you're going full speed all 14 minutes of it,” explained U.S. Space Force 1st Lt. Devin Doyle, 533rd Training Squadron, Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.

This year the Air Force and Space Force Women’s rugby team broke the Army’s winning streak by taking home the gold. They beat the Army 24-5 on Friday night and started Saturday with a tie against the Marine Corps 19-19 and then they claimed victory by playing the Navy 40-5 and finished the day with a win against the Coast Guard 36-7.

Although the teams have seven players on the fields plus five substitutes players who may be active duty or reservists and guardsmen service members from all over the world and different career fields that doesn’t show in the way they play or affect the teams bond.

“You will learn a lot about yourself on a sports team and I think few people have the opportunity to build the bonds that we get from practicing and playing with each other every day,” said Doyle. “It's a privilege to be out here and everyone should apply for whatever sport just to get that experience.”

Teamwork and communication are crucial to ensuring mission success, safety, efficiency and heightened morale in both the game of rugby and in the Armed Forces.

“Making sure we have [communication] out on the field and it’s clear and painless, even during practices, making sure everyone understands what is happening,” said Doyle.

“It really shows I trust every single player with my life and everything I got on the field too,” added U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda Gonzalez, 924th Maintenance Squadron A-10 crew chief, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

Not only do they support each other on the field, they’re also there for their country. The team’s two jerseys not only represented the Air Force and Space Force but on the back of the team’s Air Force jerseys they each have the name of women who have died in combat and on the back of the Space Force jerseys it says ‘For Those Who Can’t’.

The saying “For Those Who Can’t” represents service members who no longer can pursue their sport, whether it is due to physical reasons.

“We are always going to be here for each other and for those who can’t, because there are people that can’t continue playing their sports,” said Doyle. “They can’t continue to be here. So that’s cool that we get to honor them.”

The Armed Force Sports program is a way for military personnel to stay physically fit, improve their mental resiliency, build camaraderie and teamwork skills, and showcase their athletic talents. Doyle encourages anyone interested in trying out for the team to do so.

“Absolutely come out,” said Doyle. “People started on this team with no rugby experience and just want to be athletic as most people in the Air Force and Space Force do.”

For more information on how to apply for an armed forces sport, go to https://armedforcessports.defense.gov/For-Athletes/How-to-Apply/ . If selected a potential player will be invited to tryouts and there will be selected to represent their respected branch of service.