Get to know the UTSA women’s rugby team

Sofia Garcia, Editor-in-Chief

Founded in 2012 and home to 25 athletes, the UTSA Women’s Rugby team is a force to be reckoned with. As a way to close out their season and spread the word about the rugby team, President Grace Chen and Anastasia Magaña sat down for an interview with The Paisano. They have both played for four years and have enjoyed every moment of their time with the team.

“I got into it out of high school because I knew I needed the structure of an extracurricular … I wanted to try something new,” Chen said. “A really good friend of mine that was actually the president at the time was recruiting when I was a freshman, and I walked right by her as she was telling a joke, something funny about rugby, and I thought, ‘oh, that sounds like fun, I could do that.’ I signed up right there and they were the first ones to text me.”

“I saw them at Late Night at The Rec. I was always a student-athlete … I played basketball for most of my life, so I always liked the structure of just having something to make my grades stay okay. It was an easy transition from basketball to rugby,” Magaña said.

For those who are not familiar with the sport, the players described the basic rules. 

“So, there are two main types of rugby that we play. We play 15s rugby and 7s rugby; it’s all rugby and it has functionally the same rules, but one game has 15 versus 15 people and the other has seven versus seven. Because of the amount of people on the field, the game changes in strategy, but not in rules. It is a different strategy when there are less people on the field,” Chen said. “7s is what we usually play in the spring and summer and it is a much shorter game — it’s only 20 minutes long. So, it is seven minute halves, and it makes up 14 minutes, but there is a two minute halftime. The basic rules of rugby are, if you understand football, it’s kind of like football but without downs. If you understand soccer or basketball, it’s kind of like that. The bottom line is that it’s like any other sport with balls, except you can only throw backwards or laterally. That’s the main difference. Also, when someone gets tackled, the play doesn’t stop … we also don’t wear pads.”

“At that point, it’s like soccer. The only time we stop is when there are head injuries,” Magaña said. 

Although rugby may seem like a complicated sport from the outside looking in, Chen and Magaña explained that it is easy once you get the hang of it. 

“So, those are the big things, and it makes for a very interesting sport. It means learning it is always interesting; it takes a second for it to click, but since it has so many similarities to other sports, it’s not actually that hard to pick up. Our coaches and alumni are fantastic about coming back and supporting our teams,” Chen said. 

The team has a practice and game schedule that allows for a smooth transition into the sport. 

“We practice on Monday and Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and then our games are every other weekend. It’s split half travel, half home. This season has been interesting, of course, and the fall, because of rebuilding [after] COVID, but we’ve done really well to manage. We are still traveling and we have support from the campus rec, so it’s been a really exciting time to continue to play. We are really grateful for the opportunity to play,” Chen said.

Chen and Magaña both feel passionate about rugby, and both agree that it has become much more well-known in the United States.

Photo courtesy of Ethan Gullett

“I think there is a bid in Congress to have the next World Cup here in the States. It is already really popular. We’ve got major league rugby — it’s already blowing up. We’ve got professional women’s teams popping up everywhere. The United States has been doing a fantastic job in the World Cup Series, and then rugby 7s also became an Olympic sport for the summer Olympics in 2016. It’s growing as an international sport …. We have three major league rugby teams in the state of Texas. That is more than I think anyone has in their own state. We’ve got Austin, Houston and Dallas. To get that many men and then to pay them, to have people want to come out to their games … that’s just proof of its existence and its growth,” Chen said. 

For anyone interested in joining the team, Chen and Magaña explained how to go about the process.

“We recruit usually two days a week, so Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. We also have social media, so we have Instagram, Facebook and Twitter,” Magaña said.

“You can always reach out to us, DM us on social media too. Our officers are really good about getting back to y’all. In the beginning of the semester, when we were not allowed to table in-person because school was not in-person, we got a bunch of people through our social media,” Chen said. 

The team will play A&M in the 15s championship this coming weekend, and they are looking forward to an exciting matchup. 

“We’re so excited. It’s been incredible to see how far we’ve come this season and just this year. We kind of had to rebuild the team from scratch because a lot of our girls graduated through COVID, and that is just a circumstance that everyone had to deal with. I am so proud of being able to play with these girls; I’m so proud of how far we’ve come skills wise and as a team,” Chen said. 

Chen, who is also an Archer Fellow, McNair Scholar and Marshall Finalist, will be graduating this May and attending Columbia University in the fall for her master’s degree. Magaña will graduate in December. After, she will apply for medical school and also wishes to commission into the military. 


The women’s rugby team can be found on social media @utsa_rugbyw.