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Rock ‘em, sock ‘em rugby gals enjoy home field advantage

Since forming two years ago, the Brooklyn Women’s Rugby team has traveled the Northeast, going out−of−state to play teams from Philadelphia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

This Saturday, the team has the home−field advantage when they play for the first time at the Red Hook Field.

The summer is the off−season for the developing squad, comprising mostly 20− and 30−something Brooklynites from neighborhoods including Williamsburg, Prospect Heights, Bedford−Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Heights, as well as some rugby enthusiasts from Queens and Manhattan. As a building season, it’s a great time for interested athletes, novice or not, to get involved in the sport.

“We’re always, always, always recruiting,” said Coach Jaimee Nelsen of Red Hook, whose made the rounds of Northeast squads as a player and a coach at Babson College in Massachusetts before coming to Brooklyn’s club to coach. “Most pick it up in college in the United States. Even if you haven’t learned in college, you can still join us. You can come out and we’ll teach you.”

Most women on the approximately 18−person team are new to the sport, having recently started playing in the last few years. The league itself is young, the youngest rugby club in the city since forming in 2007. (The New York Rugby Club, the oldest rugby club in the country, was founded in 1929).

After this Saturday’s match, against the Monmouth Renegades from the Jersey shore, both teams will be found at Bar Great Harry (the Brooklyn club’s main sponsor) on Smith and Sackett streets.

“After wrestling all over the field and getting bruised and battered, you go and share some beer and have a good time,” said Nelsen.

With the return of the Red Hook vendors to the fields this weekend, spectators can also expect a good time, as the team celebrates its first time, after practicing in Prospect Park, playing competitively in Brooklyn.

“The neighborhood has been uber−supportive,” said Nelson. “We’re trying to create a buzz to get more of the neighborhood to come out. It’s not every day you can go see women’s sports here in Brooklyn.”

The Brooklyn Women’s Rugby team plays Saturday, May 2, at the Red Hook Field (at Clinton and Bay streets), on the field with the bleachers.

Those interested in joining the team should email The team practices Wednesday evening at the Red Hook Field. For more information, go to

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