Rugby Player Suffers Major Knee Injury

Christopher Spry

Rugby is a high paced, intense sport, and junior Vanessa Mahan has played rugby for four years.

“I originally played for Park Hill, then I helped start a team for our school district so I could have my own team, and now I play on NKC School district team, KC United and Midwest all-star team,” Mahan said.

Rugby is among the fastest growing sport in the United States, and the second most popular sport behind soccer, according to Utah Youth Rugby.

The game is 60 minutes with no timeouts and a five-minute halftime. Players play both offense and defense at any given time in the game. Traditional rugby games have 15 players on each side.

Mahan has been around rugby her entire life and started playing when she was 13 years old. She went to her dad’s games as a young girl all the way up to when she started playing.

“When my dad was playing a game, he would always give me a jersey to wear, which went down to my ankles. And I would always run along the sidelines with it so I could feel part of the team,” Mahan said. “My first game I was really nervous because I didn’t want to get hit, but after my tackle I was automatically in love with the sport.”

When she started her team, there were four girls on the team originally. Now there are about 20 girls on the team.

“I love how rugby is kind of a rough sport, because many people think girls are supposed to do girly things like dance or cheer instead of more contact and physical sports, but with rugby it’s a different atmosphere. It makes you feel like you can do anything,” Mahan said.

Injuries in this game can range anywhere from a minor bruise to a major break.

“I hurt myself in the middle of a tournament in Oklahoma during a really muddy game. It was in a ruck, which is where you push against someone from the other team to gain possession of the ball, and someone fell on my leg and I felt something pop. It felt like rubber band snapped inside my leg. I ended up tearing my ACL, MCL, and meniscus,” Mahan said.