Q&A with Nora Holmes, Senior Rugby Player with No Sympathy


Nora Holmes is a senior on the Colorado College Cutthroat Club Rugby Team. Last year, the team earned a fourth place finish at the National Small College Rugby Organization finals and is looking to make another trip to nationals this year. The team is in the midst of their fall season and will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of rugby at CC with a home match during homecoming weekend. The women kick off on Friday, Oct.11 at 6 p.m. on Washburn Field, followed by the men’s team at 8 p.m.

Ben Hall: You’re in geology right now. What rock or mineral best characterizes this year’s team?

Nora Holmes: I feel like we’re a mid- or high-grade metamorphic rock… We’ve undergone a lot of changes in the past few years… which have all been for the better. It was awesome [when I was a freshman], but it’s a much healthier and happy place now.

Photo courtesy of Nora Holmes

BH: You’ve competed both on club and varsity teams at CC. What do you like about being on a club team compared to a varsity team?

NH: I think it’s more the sport of rugby itself—I’ve done competitive soccer, skiing, horseback riding, and track, but rugby’s the one I’ve felt most at home… You literally put your body on the line for [your teammates] and hit people really hard. It really hurts, but it’s also so fun and I think that’s next level.

BH: Have most members of the team played rugby before coming to CC?

NH: No, I think we have two people on our team now who played in high school. Most people had never even seen a rugby ball before [joining our team].

BH: What should people know about rugby that they don’t understand?

NH: That it’s better than football… We’re healthier players, because we don’t tackle with our faces or our necks, so you don’t get as many neck or brain injuries as you do in football. It’s more fun to watch, because if you don’t know what you’re watching, it just looks like a giant fight, and if you do know what you’re watching, you can appreciate the beauty of the game… It also doesn’t really make sense, which I think is hilarious. When the ball goes out of bounds, you essentially do a cheerleading move and lift people up in the air to catch it rather than just catching it like a normal person, which I don’t get, but it’s still fun.

BH: What are your selling points to recruits who have never played rugby before?

NH: I talk a lot about the team dynamic. My best friends are on the men’s team and on my team, which is really great… I talk a lot about the nature of the sport. Because you’re all being so physical with each other all the time, a sense of team develops more than in any other sport that I’ve found… It also teaches you a lot of lessons, because once you’ve tackled someone who’s three times your size, you can do anything. It’s really rewarding to see the rookies figure it out. When it clicks in a game is my favorite part of the sport.

BH: What’s the biggest challenge in gameplay?

NH: I think it’s kind of a scary sport; I’m a really aggressive person in everyday life which makes it easy to transition onto the field, but I think if you’re not as outwardly aggressive or competitive, you might think the sport’s not for you. However, that’s not true at all. I think that’s something a lot of people on the team—when they start out—might think: ‘I’m too small to tackle,’ but I get wrecked by people who are 100 pounds all the time. It’s a really good realization and it’s humbling, but it’s also hard to get there.

BH: If you were going to give a TED Talk, what would the topic be?

NH: If it wasn’t rugby, I’d probably do it on animal ecology… it’s a really great way to learn about the stuff that lives around you in the area we go to school in, and it’s really interesting. Plants, animals, and environmental factors are all really relevant to CC student’s lives.

BH: In your opinion, is it more unethical to eat veal or baby carrots?

NH: Well, I’m a vegetarian, so veal.

BH: Do you know how young baby carrots are when they’re taken away from their mothers?

NH: Have you taken a plant bio class?

BH: I just know it’s too young. Does the team have a motto or cheer?

NH: “15 as one” is a traditional CC rugby saying. We have 15 players on the field during the fall season (and seven in the spring), so it signifies all of us playing together as one greater being.

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