You're an intense, competitive athlete. Blood spilt on the fields when angry competitors punch you right in the teeth after taking out your guard or cleat you when you're rolling away from a tackle, the sweat poured out by the gallons in the gym as your coach pushes you harder and faster, and even more so the tears when a bad tackle gets you out of the game for a month, a freak accident counts you out for a year.. Sometimes it doesn't mean anything.
My identity as a both a woman and an athlete, most especially in a role that was so typically "male" with its level of aggression and definitively masculine associations, began to conflict. Instead of fighting against the stereotypes that were so often thrust upon me, I became weak. I grew my hair out so that people never asked if a hair cut was a step closer to my becoming a lesbian. I allowed myself to be continually shamed by the body that gave me so much power the minute I stepped off the pitch, the second I was out of the eyesight of my encouraging teammates.
Rugby is a game of skill and power, yes, but for women it is also a game of empowerment, of the cherishing of individuality and the celebration of differences. It's a sport of body positivity, and most of all, a platform for redefining what it really means to "be a woman."