On Feb. 17th, 2010, USA Rugby South President Kevin Kitto approved and announced the appointment of Michele Yarbrough as Assistant Collegiate Director for USA Rugby South. Michele will work with USA Rugby South Collegiate Director Marty Bradley in the administration of the women’s collegiate competitions.
Michele’s dedication to the development of rugby is well known to ruggers in the Deep South Union and while congratulating Michele on this responsibility and honor, deepsouthrugby.net asked her a few questions to preserve a bit of the history of the moment and so readers, who don’t know Michele, can find out a little more about her. Below are the questions and Michele’s answers.
Question: When and where did you start playing?
I started playing Rugby at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. During the fall of 2000, I was challenged by one of the men’s players to see if I could last a whole women’s practice. I went out to practice and the rest is really history for me.
Question: Greatest moment as a player?
This is a very hard question to answer for me. I have been extremely blessed to be around many great rugby players over the past ten years. As a result I have so many moments with rugby that I will never forget. It has truly made me who I am today. If I had to pick one moment though, it would be the USM Women’s Alumni Game in 2005. First I was asked to be captain – for the first time. I played 60 minutes on a fractured ankle and ended up getting Man of the Match. The only game that comes close to this is our first home game in the spring of 2001. We beat LSU and I think everyone on the team got to score a try! After that game I had the opportunity to thank the one person who had gone so unrecognized with the USM Women’s team, Sabrina Scott (Bean to those who know her). She is truly the reason that the USM Women’s Rugby team has survived over the past ten year and deserved the credit. To this day she is the one coach that I have had that I never want to disappoint.
Question: Overall greatest Rugby moment?
This is really going to be a toss up between two moments for me.
This past weekend I was brought to tears of pride over 25 young women that I have been assisting this year to develop their own women’s collegiate rugby team. At their first home game this weekend, they had the forethought to sing the national anthem before the match, invited dignitaries from their University and the President of our LAU, Charles Dube, was there to present them with a game ball. They played with the gusto and drive that makes rugby the sport that it is today. To make the day even better, they won!
The other moment that rivals this will happen on April 24, 2010. The USM Women’s Rugby team will be celebrating its Tenth Anniversary of the start of the team. We will have an alumni game, banquet, and I imagine some type of fun rugby awards. I will have the opportunity to referee this game as my playing days are over. It will be a bittersweet weekend. When this team was formed there were at least 4 other collegiate women’s teams in the area (LSU, SLU, Loyola, & MSU), but there was no backing in our LAU for a matrix and now USM is the only team out of those original teams that is still around, but at the same time, we now have such great support from our LAU that this year we have seen the birth of two new college women’s teams (Alabama and Auburn) and in their first year, they are playing in a matrix!
Question: Views on direction of womens collegiate rugby in South, in Deep South, in nation?
Deep South Direction :I think our LAU has ignored women’s rugby for a very long time and if anyone wants to challenge me on that point I welcome them too, as I saw it first hand when I was in college. I can honestly say that over the past two to three years that our LAU has made leaps and bounds on the emphasis that is being placed on women’s rugby. We have made major efforts to educate people who are trying to start new teams and offer them as much assistance and guidance as we can. This being said, while I have served as the Discipline Chair for this LAU, I have been grossly upset by watching teams being decimated by one or two bad eggs. When this has occurred it takes several years to rebuild a team. It is evident to me that it greatly benefits a college team to have an adult (Yes, I said adult or just a non student) around to keep them grounded both on and off the field. (It is worth pointing out Adult refers to a state of mind not age). I am excited and proud to be part of the Deep South Rugby Union. We are going through a period of growth, which is great for us and the sport of rugby!
Rugby South Direction : From what I have learned over the past few years and in the most recent few weeks, I think that USA Rugby South is moving in the correct direction for women’s collegiate rugby. Between people like Marty Bradley, Nancy Campbell and Kevin Kitto, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a great deal of backing for women’s collegiate rugby. What I can most definitely point out, as a need, is the help from past players to step in and volunteer to coach. For teams to continue to excel in the South, we need more people who have already hung up their boots to pick them back up and lend time to these new players. In my opinion collegiate rugby takes the most time to coach and lend direction to, mainly because you only have players for 2 to 4 years and rugby is fighting for their attention, which is split between school, work and that wonderful college experience. To every former player who coaches, referees or is an administrator a big thank you! It takes the work of all of you to make these teams what they are today and your continued support to take them forward.
Personal Rugby Accomplishments
2009 Deep South Rugby Referee Society
Appointed the Referee Development Officer with the responsibility to determine, schedule and refer training for all referees in our society.
2008-Current Deep South Rugby Union
Appointed the Discipline Chair with the responsibility to determine equitable discipline for inappropriate actions both on and off the field.
2004-2009 Battleship Men’s Rugby Football Club, Inc. , Mobile, AL
Elected to two terms as Club President 2006-2008
Elected to four terms as Club Treasurer 2005-2008
Elected to two terms as Club Secretary 2004-2005
Served for six years as a Tournament Chairwoman 2004-2009
(If you have a Michele story to add to the article, send it to email@example.com ).