Q and A with VYRA’s own Baylee Annis

Baylee Annis was recently named to the USA Eagles squad that competed in Canada Super Series at the end of last month. We did a little Q&A with her to find out more about her passion for rugby and what it is like playing at the elite level, check out what she had to say!

Q1: How did you get started in rugby? How old were you when you started playing?

Rugby was a constant presence in my childhood, as both my parents started playing when I was about eight years old. I played noncontact flag rugby during halftimes for a few years before I was finally allowed to play contact at age 14.

Q2: What made you want to pursue rugby at a higher level and what did you find the most challenging part of attaining that goal?

I knew when I was in high school that I wanted to play rugby for the national team, and ensured that rugby remained a priority, alongside academics. When applying to colleges, I knew that I wanted to play rugby at a high level university and I searched for schools that had hard-working programs that valued the sport over socializing. After my sophomore year, I had my first invitation to a USA Rugby tryout camp. The next three years I focused my effort on making that team. The hardest part for me was the changes in lifestyle I needed to make: my nutrition and training program needed some work. I still struggle with being strict in what I eat, but I’m always working to get better!

Q3: What do feel rugby has taught you outside of the game itself?

Of the many teachings stemming from the game, the one that I’ve held on to is that laughter and camaraderie are conduits for connected play—the team that enjoys one another off the field, dominates on the field. Take the time to relax and have fun with your teammates.

Q4: What words of advice would you give to a youth player who wants to play at a higher level?

To any growing ruggers, the advice I would give is to find a player to look up to and reach out to them. High level rugby players are especially receptive to developing athletes and we love to help out the next generation of players. A second bit of advice: find activities and workouts that support your rugby technique, when you hit a plateau physically or mentally (like we all do), play those little competitive games that help you take your mind away from rugby. Ping Pong is a personal favorite, and it’s actually helped my reaction time improve!

Q5: Out of the many position you have played, which is your favorite and why?

Tight head prop, where I’m playing currently. I’ve learned to love the technique required to beat your opposition, it’s such a mental game.

Q6: Do you have a pre-game ritual? Favorite pump-up song? Must have snack?

I visualize before every game, even during fun, non-competitive games. I end my visualization session with a recollection of all the fields I’ve played on, and the field I’ll step on that day. It really helps calm my nerves. I like to listen to the preparation my team and tend to not use music. My pre-game meal varies, but almost always includes berries and snap peas if they are growing in-season.

Q7: You were chosen to join the Women’s Eagles this summer to play in the Nations Cup in Canada. Tell me about that experience.

The experience was incredible. The selected team was quite young and included 13 new caps in our first match alone. Against all odds, we clicked as a group and I played more games and laughed more those two weeks than I have with any other group. The tour as a whole was incredibly enlightening. I was able to play and hang out with some amazing players, several of whom attended the World Cup last summer. Playing alongside them has been so motivating!

Q8: What is next for you after this summer?

This fall I’ll be moving back to upstate to train locally in Saranac Lake. My focus is to prepare for the camp we have in January 2016 that will be the main deciding camp for the 2017 World Cup pool of players.

Q9: What is your favorite rugby moment from your own career?

My favorite moment thus far was the first play of my international career in our game against England. After my first tackle, a ruck collapsed and I found myself on the ground face to face with an English player—a teammate and the captain of the team I played for when living in England. With a dirt smeared face, she gave me a grin and a nudge as I jumped up to rejoin my team. That moment was such a great way to begin my first cap.

Q10: In one word, describe what rugby means to you, then explain why you chose that word.

Remarkable. The speed, power, grace and intensity of the game. The people of the game. The love for the game. The respect we all have for the referees, opponents and teammates. It’s all pretty amazing.


Parents and Players!

Hey all you rugby fans!

I know things have been a little behind on this page but we are working hard to get things back up and moving! We have some new rugby stories and words of advice from current and past Vermont players coming your way in the next week or so. We’ll also have notes from parents of current and past players about why rugby is important to them and their family, so keep a sharp eye on this page and share it with your friends and families!

Remember, we can’t do this without your support! Let’s get Vermont talking about the next big Olympic sport!


Nora’s Rugby Story

We got a story submitted from one of our previous players and we wanted to share it with you:

I was a never a team sport kind of girl. I passed through ballet, tap and gymnastics for a time, but my real passion was horse back riding. I guess you could have called me “the horse girl,” well at least all the way up until my junior year of high school. That’s when I found rugby. I knew nothing about it, I had never seen it, and all I knew was I had a couple friends who wanted me to play. They tried to recruit me in my sophomore year, but I was convinced that I would die because in my eyes playing rugby was nothing short of crazy. Boy was I right, but not in the way you may think. It was crazy…crazy fun. I was dragged to a practice by friends, and after that one day, you couldn’t have stopped me from playing if you tried(no pun intended).

I fell in love with rugby that year and it has become a mainstay in my life ever since. My coaches, Tiffany Renaud, Tree Bertram, and Kevin O’Brian taught me so much more than rugby, they taught me trust, teamwork, passion, determination, courage, compassion, respect, and confidence. I not only grew as a player, but also as a person. I became a leader, both on the team and in other aspects of my life, I pushed myself to become better, and to work harder, to embody all that rugby is in my everyday life. I only have one regret from my high school rugby days, and it is that I didn’t start playing earlier.

I’m entering my final year at the Rochester Institute of Technology, but when I first started here rugby was a bit of a lost cause. The men’s team was struggling to stay a recognized club sport and the women’s team…well they just didn’t exist. I didn’t go to college to play rugby, but I wasn’t about to give it up because there wasn’t a team for me to join, so I played with the boys. My goal became to build a team for that next girl who came in looking for a rugby team to call family and I knew I wasn’t alone. There were about five of us girls who practiced with the men that year, all the while making plans for what we really wanted, our own team. It took us the better part of two years but we finally did it. This past fall we played our first official game as RIT Womens Rugby in six years, and we won, shutting out the other team 39-0. We are still a small team, we struggle to get the numbers and funding we need each season but we don’t give up, we have worked too hard and come to far to just let it go. My time as a college rugger is coming to an end, but I know the team will continue to grow and get stronger.

Trying new things can be scary, especially when they involve tackling, but if we never tried new things then we would never move forward. I would not be where I am today in all aspects of life without this amazing sport and it’s incredible community. Yes, rugby is a sport with a ball and running, but it is really so much more than that. It is a life style, one shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and those people are some of the best you will ever meet.

I know this is getting long, but I want to leave this note for parents, especially those of young girls. If your daughter comes home and says, “I want to try rugby,” don’t tell her she can’t just because you are scared. She is tougher than she looks, and rugby will not only keep her healthy and strong, it will provide her with the building blocks she needs to become a strong, confident, and independent woman. I’ll leave you with a favorite quote of mine: “I play rugby…what’s your superpower?”

Want to Watch Rugby?

Get excited because this weekend starts 6 Nations Rugby that goes from February 6 to March 21. If you are in the Burlington area or anywhere near a Rí Rá Irish Pub check it out there or you can view via TV or online.
Official Link:
Where to View:

Burlington Rugby Football Club Combine March 28th

Hey everyone! Check out this great opportunity that is coming in the upcoming Spring! Plan ahead now and click the link below for further information!

Burlington Rugby invites all high school and college players to join us for our first annual rugby combine and field day on Saturday March 28th 2015. Multiple events are being planned to test your rugby skills. Prizes will be awarded for the top participant in each of four categories: HS male, HS female, college male, and college female. Your $20.00 registration will include a free t-shirt. Registration will be limited to the first 80 participants so reserve your space now via our website.Please pass this along to any potential participants or coaches. Thank you!


Weekend Preview: VT State Championships

802 Rugby Vermont State Youth Rugby Championship games June 1.
Photo Credit: Tiffany Renaud
The top teams in Vermont youth rugby take to the pitch for the 2014 Vermont Youth Rugby State Championship onSunday, June 1, at Tree Farm Recreational Facility in Essex Junction, Vt.
Essex, the 2013 boys state champions,  face off against South Burlington at 1 p.m., in a repeat of the 2013 finals.  In the girls finals, 2013 champions Essex face South Burlington at 3 p.m.
Essex and South Burlington girls’ and boys’ teams have played each other in the regular season, each taking away one win, making this year’s championship especially interesting. With an in-season rivalry brewing, this weekend’s games are sure to be exciting for players and fans alike.
Following the boys game, Rookie Rugby players will take the field for a short game. Rookie Rugby programs have been integrated into several local schools. This program teaches young athletes the basics of rugby while playing a structured non-contact game, setting up the building blocks for high school full-contact play. The Rookie Rugby players will showcase their abilities in between the boys and girls games.

802 Rugby and VYRA would like to thank Rugby Imports, Burlington Rugby Club and the parents and volunteers who will help make this weekend great for all.


Rookie Rugby Camp: June 30th-June 3rd at South Burlington Recreation and Parks 8:30am-12:00pm.

802 Rugby and Vermont Youth Rugby Association present a Rookie Rugby Camp, a non-contact version of rugby that involves all the skill, challenge, and fun of the fast growing game of rugby in a safe environment.  No experience is necessary and all campers need is water, a snack, cleats (if available or athletic shoes), active attire, and a good attitude.  The camp will be taught be a collegiate all-american rugby player who has recently graduated from Norwich University’s national championship winning women’s rugby team.  Take part in the game that will be returning to the Olympics in 2016! Participants will receive a VYRA Rugby t-shirt.

Questions? Check out vyra.org or VYRA’s Facebook page for more information.

This weekend: Vermont High School State Championship

Ready for the Vermont State Championships this weekend? We are! This Sunday, June 1st at the Tree Farm (189 Old Colchester Road, Essex Junction Vermont) the South Burlington boys take on Essex at 1:00 pm, with the South Burlington girls challenging Essex at 3:00 pm. Join us for a fun-filled day of great rugby!

NOVA Women’s Rugby host Sevens Clinic for all levels of player

On Sunday May 4th NOVA Women’s Rugby will be hosting a 7s clinic in the Washington DC area.
The 7s clinic will be for Novice, Intermediate and Elite collegiate/adult players.
If you are interested please email nova7sclinic@gmail.com and we will send you a form to fill out. (Please indicate if you are signing up as an Individual or as a team)
Clinic includes:
  • Elite Level One-on One Coaching
  • Skill and Drills Stations
  • Scrimmage
  • Speakers:
    • Game Day Nutrition
    • Mental Preperation
  • T-shirt
  • Video Analysis
  • Individualized Evaluation
Coaching Staff includes:
  • US Eagle and Assistant Olympic Team Development Coach – Beth Black
  • MARFU 7s Head Coach and Atlantis Assistant Coach- Dana Creager
  • US Eagles – Lauren Hoeck and CJ Hildreth
  • Members of the Club National 7s Runners-up NOVA Women

The cost is $25 per player (Please inquire on team discounts).

Invitational registration begins on March 1. Open Registration for all levels begins on March 18th.