More Than a Game


Idaho rugby club offers Boise a new hobby

By Benton Smith
Photography by John Webster

Tired and beaten, blood dripping onto their grass stained jerseys, muscles heavy as the players heave themselves into the backseats of crowded cars and plop down trying to find whichever position minimizes the soreness. These are all common sights after a weekend rugby match and the players here have learned to cherish this fatigue that exists in such contrast to the monotony of the work week. So while exhausted, the mood of the team is pleasant as the car pulls out of the parking lot on the way back home. It’s back to Boise and back to another week of work for these ladies.

Nemesis is Idaho’s only women’s club rugby team and is located right here in the Treasure Valley.  Holding practices on Mondays and Thursdays at Winstead Park where oaches Laurie Appel and Carrie Magnuson prepare Nemesis for matches against teams from Washington and Oregon.  Practices are held from 6-8 and are open to the public.

Appel says, “The great thing about rugby is anyone can play it you know, you need people who are strong you need people who are fast so it’s like if you’re small there is a position for you if you’re big there is a position for you.”

Nemesis has adopted this inclusive aspect of rugby and now hold more social events to further encourage participation from Boiseans. Hosting road trips, camping trips, costume parties, and of course matches. The Nemesis team spends so much time together that the bond between the plays has become that of a sisterhood, or as Magnuson says, “They are kind of like your family.”

Magnuson’s teammate Mikie McDonnell explained this phenomenon occurring with her when she first moved to Boise and found a flyer for Nemesis on the Boise State campus.

“I walked from BSU to The Lift not knowing anyone. They were having a raffle so I sat in a booth to watch when a rugby player asked if I wanted a beer and brought me to their table,” McDonnell says. “It was like the players were saying you’re ours now. It was the best experience in life.”

Magnuson echoed that sentiment when commenting on the bond between the women, “Once you’re part of the rugby family, we don’t let you go.”

A statement Magnuson embodies as she has remained a part of Nemesis since 2007. Staying with the team through all the time commitments and the rugby induced injuries. A list that includes a torn ACL, a broken forearm, and most recently a broken bone in her hand, what the doctors referred to as an extra octave fracture in her pinkie.

Not to say any of this slowed her down though. When asked how breaking her for-arm during a match affected her Magnuson’s response, “Well I held my hand above my head and tried to use the other arm.”

One might think it would take a lot to stick with a hobby resulting in as much pain as Nemesis endures, but, you would be hard pressed to find any that resulted in as much friendship and fun as well. It is this that helps the girls through the long trips and practices. This sense of sisterhood that has developed between the players, or, as McDonnell says, “find the rugby team and you have thirty new best friends.”