Santa Barbara rugby club adds women’s side

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Santa Barbara rugby club adds women’s side

Gabriel Knapp

Gabriel Knapp

Gabriel Knapp

Santa Barbara rugby club women's captain Kristine Dunigan breaks the arm tackle of UCSB opponent in the first of three games Saturday, Oct. 27 at Elings park.

Malin Ottosson, Staff Writer

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Santa Barbara women’s rugby team won two of three games in their first tournament on Saturday, Oct. 27 at a crowded Elings Park.

For the first time, Santa Barbara Rugby club has a women’s side. The club is one of the few that recruits from City College and non-student local community members to gain a critical mass to compete.

Kristine Dunigan, the captain and the creator of the team, has been playing for 11 years. She started out in Los Angeles before coming to Santa Barbara to build a team.

“I was just inspired by the people I met, and it’s so fun and friendly,” Dunigan said. “No, not really friendly. It’s rough, but friendly.”

Their primary ambition was to build a strong City College squad, but they haven’t had time to recruit enough students because it is the inaugural season for the women’s side.

“We started the team as far as a City College team, and then we branched out as far as women’s team, just to grow,” Dunigan said. “We want to have three teams: the UC, the CC and a women’s team [in Santa Barbara].“

Right now the team has 13 players and is playing seven-a-side games. The goal is to have enough players to compete in the standard rugby format fifteen-a-side.

“We’re hopefully going to grow up till 15 [players] by December, so we can start playing fifteens next semester,” Dunigan said.

Kevin Battle, head coach for the men’s rugby team, was asked if he wanted to coach for the women’s team as well.

“I couldn’t say no. [There are] just too many athletes, too many women with strong desire to play. I felt that I was obliged to help them out,” Battle said.

Even though the women’s rugby team wants to compete with the best, their first mark on the checklist is to build a strong squad.

“It’s not about wins and losses at this point, but making sure they’re playing well and enjoying what they are doing and we keep going from there.” Battle said.

Battle is also the coach of Grunion Rugby Club who organizes the annual tournament. He also runs Santa Barbara Rugby Academy, which he founded and brings rugby players from City College and UCSB as well as at large community members.

Usually seven-a-side is a 14-minute long game, played over two halves, but since they were behind schedule they had to play both USCB and Ventura in one game.

Kristine says that anyone can join the women’s team. They have practice everyday except Fridays, between 5-6.30 p.m. at Chase Palm Park.

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