Games that involve sprinting at full speed to brutally tackle opponents aren’t for everyone, but senior and Cutthroat captain Nora Holmes swears by it. Rewarded with bruises and turf burns, Holmes fearlessly chases down players to drop them to the ground and win the ball.
As well as being an athletic star, Holmes is an academic powerhouse too, with a major in organismal biology and ecology and two minors in feminist and gender studies and human biology and kinesiology. Holmes began playing rugby during her first year of college. “I was bullied by my NSO leader, in a good way and a loving way, to join rugby,” Holmes said. “She was the captain of what was the women’s team, which is now Cutthroat.”
Holmes plays rugby for both the fall and spring seasons. “For 15s you have 15 players on the field, and the games last 80 minutes,” said Holmes. “In the spring we play sevens, and those games last 14 minutes. During a sevens game it’s pretty much all sprinting and full-field tackles.” Holmes is especially talented at sevens due to her background in track and field, in which she ran the 400 meter and the hurdles.
The spring season starts during the end of Block 6 and ends with nationals on the first weekend of Block 8. Unfortunately, Holmes will not be on the field during nationals because she broke her fibula. “I was in the middle of sliding down to score a try when I was tackled from the side with poor form,” she explained.
The possibility of breaking major bones can scare people away from joining rugby, but it doesn’t seem to frighten Holmes, even post-injury. Although she admitted that a part of the game is pain, the sport and the team are worth it. “We have a lot of amazing people on the team,” Holmes said.
Rugby teams are famously rowdy and close- knit, and Cutthroat is no exception. They often have hilarious traditions such as the Cutthroat’s Zulu try. “When every person on the team scores their first try, it’s called a Zulu try, and at the end of the year everyone on the team has to do a naked lap around the field,” said Holmes.
According to Holmes, rugby players bond so tightly because of their reliance on one another. “Every day in practice and every game, you put your body and safety on the line for each other,” she said. “I’ve played on a lot of sports teams before, and I’ve never experienced a community with so much trust and care. We do a lot of social stuff both within Cutthroat and with the men’s team, so you make a lot of good friends.”
According to Holmes, the team has worked hard to get where they are. “Back when I started playing, we had some problems, [but] we’ve worked really hard to fix them” she explained. “It’s great, as a senior and a captain, to see how much love we have for each other and how welcoming we are. We use gender -inclusive language and call ourselves Cutthroat instead of the women’s team. In a way, the space is very political, which is interesting on a sports team, but the team is built on unconditional love and support, which is really beautiful. It’s really wholesome.”
This weekend, Cutthroat is traveling to Pittsburg for nationals. “We’re lucky that we have such a great alumni network to help us get to tournaments,” Holmes said. “Without them we wouldn’t be able to go.” Cutthroat was fourth in the nation last year and second the year before that, so there are high hopes for Nationals this year.