Our Team

How CWRFC Started

Chicago Women’s Rugby Football Club (CWRFC) was founded in 1976. Legend has it that the Chicago Women’s Rugby Team was founded by a bunch of women who thought they would show their husbands and boyfriends just how rugby was REALLY played!

CWRFC hosted the first Women’s National “Rugby Classic” in September 1978 and the 2nd in September of 1979. The start of Nationals as we know it.. Chicago Women’s RFC has made appearances at the National tournament since 1978 with a break from1998 – 2001. We proudly returned to qualify for Nationals in 2002-2004, 2010, and 2012.

Our club partners with philanthropic causes including Girls in the Game and Misericordia Home. CWRFC also facilitates and encourages players to continue on to become coaches, referees, and to get involved in our Local Area Union (CARFU) after their playing days are over.

We have played Division I rugby since the divisions were created. We’ve had good years, bad years, fun years and sad years – best of all has been the 40-year rugby journey.

We welcome all who are interested in the sport with open arms – you don’t need to be a player to be part of CWRFC! If you do happen to be looking for a team to play for in Chicago – look us up!

Our Coaches

Chicago Women’s Rugby has an illustrious list of former coaches, including the author of the widely dispersed Rookie Primer, an illustrated guide to rugby. Our current coaches also have illustrious backgrounds.

Des Emery – Des hails from Calgary, Alberta, Canada where she began her 14 year rugby career. She played Union, League, and Sevens across Canada and the UK, working her way up to the National level for 15s. She continued to lend her skills and expertise as a coach at the Age Grade Provincial and Senior Women’s levels.

Betsy Ferrell – Betsy moved to Chicago in 2007 after teaching English in Prague. A graduate of Wake Forest University in NC (Go Deacs!) and a native of NYC, Betsy had never really heard of or seen rugby played before. A CPS teacher-friend and then-flyhalf of CWRFC convinced Betsy that her high school field hockey and lacrosse skills would make her a “natural” (a total lie, of course) and invited Betsy to rugby gatherings to introduce her to players and basically show her how fun team socials were. As a not-yet-out gay, Betsy was excited by the community of confident, athletic, and outgoing women, and saw many reasons to join the team. Betsy starting playing in 2008, and went from a lock to a flanker to a hooker, and was the starting hooker when CWRFC went to Nationals in 2011. She also completed a doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction while teaching English full-time at Roosevelt High School and married one of her rugby teammates (whom she excitedly recruited to CWRFC). She started assisting coaches in 2016 as a forwards helper, and became Forwards’ Coach in 2017. She likes to knit and go to hot yoga classes in her spare time, and loves drumming up super fun fitness circuits for rugby practice.

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