Women’s Rugby Planning for a Big 2023

Team building community ties for service and growth

You may not be aware, but women’s rugby is alive and very well here in Toledo! Preparing for the spring season, the Toledo Celtics Women’s Rugby team has seen a great deal of growth since becoming active again after Covid. And they’re looking for you.

“Rugby is such an amazing sport,” said Rachel Adams, club president. “It’s good for every single body type. We’re a very diverse team, Toledo-based and open and welcoming to everyone in the community.” But it wasn’t always this easy.

Rugby not well known in the U.S.

Established in England in 1823, rugby is now a popular sport in many countries, including the U.S. Each 15-player team moves the ball up the field in phases of play, with players able to run forwards with the ball or kick the ball forward to score (but not allowed to throw the ball forward). The 80-minute game (in two 40-minute halves) is frequently known for its “scrums,” a restarting of play after a stoppage caused by a minor infringement of the laws.

The history of women’s rugby is more vague, with women playing on men’s teams as early as the late 1800s. After WWII women’s rugby became more common, culminating with both men’s and women’s competitions in the 2016 Olympics.

Toledo Celtics Men’s club rugby has been a feature in Toledo for 40 years. A women’s team was established in the spring of 2016 (after a short stint between 2002 and 2006). “We worked hard through Covid, and the team is very different now,” Adams said. Originally drawing 3-5 people for practices, the squad last spring drew enough participants for a full scrimmage (with 32 currently registered for the team).

rugby players wanted
The team is looking to add members to its roster and hold public events to share more information about the sport

Rugby safe for all

The Celtics participate in year round conditioning, indoors between spring (April – May) and fall (September-October) seasons outdoors. They have six games per season, as well as a shorter “summer 7” season with seven players per side rather than 15. “We have a relationship with Toledo Public Schools to get our indoor training between November and April, so there’s no hiatus between seasons,” said Carol Kelly, Celtics vice president and coach. “Over the winter we use social media to communicate with each other and do workout challenges. So, we stay pretty healthy throughout the year.”

And if you think rugby is a dangerous and violent sport, you couldn’t be more wrong. “Rigorous is a good way to describe rugby,” Kelly said. “It’s statistically safer than American football.” She explained that players are trained to tackle by wrapping around the waist level, so both players go down together. “We train our members very slowly so they understand exactly how to tackle.”

women's rugby team poses in front of a local food bank
Club members recently donated food and hygiene items to Equality Toledo.

A community presence

A big part of the club’s effort is its community outreach. “We’re a nonprofit organization, and we want to let the community know who we are and that we can help out,” said Adams. Team members hold fundraisers for community organizations, such as Food For Thought and at neighborhood gardens throughout the community. They also volunteer at Toledo’s PRIDE event each year. The team’s Facebook and Instagram pages carry their upcoming activities and events, including recruitment events.

Traveling to games, practice and conditioning, and working in the community can have a very positive effect on a team too. “We’re not just teammates,” said Adams. “Rugby is more than a sport. It’s about friendship, community bonds, body positivity and community service. And everyone is welcome.” 99 Center St., Toledo. toledowomensrugby@gmail.com. facebook.com/ToledoCelticsRugby, instagram.com/toledocelticswomensrugby.