There was no swarming herd of fans like you’d find at Michigan Stadium, but the action was just as smash-mouth and the passions just as high today as the Ann Arbor Women’s Rugby Football Club played Detroit at Riverside Park.
Luanne Jaruzel was a spectator on the sidelines, and graciously provided The Chronicle with some color commentary on the organized chaos between the touch lines. Her daughter, Cathy Jaruzel, first picked up the game when she traveled to Ireland about 10 years ago. Returning to Flint, Cathy started a team there but couldn’t find enough players to sustain it more than a few years. So the group joined the Ann Arbor club, and has been playing with them since. Most players are in their 20s, though there’s no age requirement.
Today, the Detroit team – and 2007 national champions – proved to be formidable opponents, beating Ann Arbor 58 to 19. It was a tough loss, but Luanne Jaruzel says that one of the best things about the sport is the camaraderie among players. “It doesn’t matter what happens on the field,” she says. “Afterwards, everyone goes out for a party, and they’re all friends.”
The home team hosts the after-game bash, and today they stayed in Riverside Park for a cookout, while the men’s club took the field against Traverse City.
The women’s team holds practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. in Burns Park. Their next home game, again at Riverside Park, is Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. against Cleveland.