New Vail Women’s Rugby team makes it official for summer season |

New Vail Women’s Rugby team makes it official for summer season

Ross Leonhart
Vail Daily

VAIL — It took one year of living in the valley for Abby Loucks to help fill a void that she saw needed filling.

After competing against men locally and traveling two hours to Denver to compete with a women’s team, Loucks was tired of commuting.

“But I love rugby,” she said.

And, “When you have more than one person, it’s a lot easier to get something going,” Loucks said.

With the help of Nicholle Jackson, that helped launch Vail Women’s Rugby.

The first-year team is registered with USA Rugby, “so we’re official, but we could definitely use more people,” Jackson said. “Experience not required.”

So far, the Vail Women’s Rugby team consists of 12 women, just starting their practice schedule heading into a summer season. The team practices at Ford Park in Vail and is looking to play against teams in Denver and Boulder, as well as tournaments in Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and Aspen.

“We’ve got one of the best views of any rugby field I’ve ever played at,” Loucks said.

‘There’s a spot for you on the field’

While both Loucks and Jackson are experienced rugby players — having played for teams in the Northeast before coming to the valley — some on the team are first-timers, and the two are adamant that it’s a sport for everyone.

“You’ve got to be tough because it’s a physical sport, but it’s a sport for every body size and shape,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t really matter how small or how big you are — there’s a spot for you on the field.”

Jackson said she’s 5 feet tall and 110 pounds. Loucks said she’s got about 10 inches on Jackson.

“But she can still take me down,” she said. “I’ve played on a team in Boston with a woman that was 50 years old, and she tackles with the best of them. There’s really no age limit. It’s just the mental limits you put on yourself.”

‘Rugby culture’

With any rugby team comes the rugby culture.

“That’s very typical of rugby culture — you play together, you drink together, you socialize together. And that even goes for the team you tried to beat up on the field,” Loucks said. “We’re working adults, and some of us are moms, so there’s a lot to juggle, but we try to have fun together.”

The local men’s rugby team has been around for about 30 years and serves as a pipeline to the professional team in Denver, Loucks said. However, a rugby team in the mountains for women has been lacking, Jackson said, which is a shame because of the power of the game.

“It gave me confidence that I didn’t know I had,” Jackson said. “I think it does that for a lot of women, too.”

Tackling, they say, can be intimidating, but not overwhelming.

“While it might be a little bit scary to think about tackling at first, it’s so much fun to learn and, I think, really empowering,” Loucks said.

The youngest member on the team is just out of college, and the oldest is in her 30s, Loucks said, adding that she learned the game after being a rower in college.

For women “not ready to be done” with rugby or looking to try it out, join Vail Women’s Rugby on Facebook or email The season’s just getting going.


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