Women’s High School Rugby Returns

High school girl’s rugby is back after a Covid-caused hiatus. Although the team is affiliated with Summit High School, the team is inviting other high schools to participate in the newest addition to the girl’s spring sports roster. 

The Timberwolves is an all girls rugby team that began in 2017, becoming the first and only rugby option for high school girls in Central Oregon. After Covid, the team was put on hold, which resulted in a decreased availability for women to play the sport. Now that Oregon is moving away from the pandemic, the team put together a touch season, or non-tackling season, for their athletes in spring of 2021. 

Even though the women’s team seemed to struggle after seniors graduated, coaches quit, and other unforeseen circumstances, the Summit men’s team has thrived — even having an official 2021 season, unlike the women.

“Not much has changed from pre Covid to post Covid, except for the amount of people that joined in. I think every year it just keeps growing,” said Carter Nelson, a Summit High School senior who picked up rugby during the football off-season.

This is almost the exact opposite of what occurred regarding women’s rugby. 

“As with so many things, rugby participation took a big hit during Covid and programs at all age levels along the West Coast are rebuilding,” said women’s rugby coach Lindsey Gadspy, who got into rugby after meeting her husband, the Summit men’s rugby coach, and falling in love with the sport. “This year for the girls, a Summit player came forward [to form a team] and pretty quickly the coaches and other players followed.”

Summit sophomore Hazel McRobie is this ambitious athlete, although she hasn’t gotten an opportunity to play in her high school career. 

“I’ve done touch and practice tackling with my brother but there hasn’t been a team for me to play on, so I haven’t really started,” said McRobie. “I’m super excited to have a solid group of girls, rugby is such a fun sport and super community oriented even as a physical sport.”

McRobie described something called “the third quarter,” a tradition in rugby where the home team makes dinner for their competition and families after the game, promoting a sense of community and a friendly aspect the sport seems to thrive upon.

“The expectation at all levels of rugby is that everyone involved — players, coaches, refs and fans — respect each other. It’s called the rugby ethos. There are rivalries in rugby, but you play as hard as you can until the final whistle blows, then you celebrate the game together,” said Coach Gadspy. 

Gadspy works with Bend High coach Ava Lemmon and Mountain View coach Steve Lopez to recruit girls throughout Bend La-Pine Schools.

Preseason begins this month with the actual season starting in March of 2023. The team will compete against many Portland-area teams on Saturdays, as Bend-La Pine Schools doesn’t have other girl’s rugby teams.

Although the sport might seem intimidating, the Summit rugby team welcomes all skill levels and encourages new players to come out and try this unique game. As of now, the team is mainly built from Summit athletes, however, women’s rugby hopes to expand as the season continues. For the women’s team in particular, the coaches and players want to rebuild the rugby community in hopes for it to grow and thrive in the coming years.

“The dream is to have a team at each school, but we will get the ball rolling from where we are today and expand as needed,” said Gadspy. “Rugby is an exceptionally empowering sport for women, and I am excited to watch the players find their own reasons to love it.”


  • Bayla Orton

    Bayla Orton is a magician of the media. A necromancer of news. A warrior wordsmith. When Bayla isn’t dining with worldly mentors or hunting misinformation, she’s defeating the oxford comma. One could refer to her as the “James Bond” of journalism. Borton. Is. Eternal.

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