Charlotte Van Den Heuvel: NDA’s Only Rugby Player

Ellen Meeuwsen, Staff Writer, Journalism I

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Charlotte Van Den Heuvel, an NDA junior, is one of the 75,000 club rugby players in the United States and plays for the women’s team the Pulaski Flyers.

Van Den Heuvel joined the sport because her friend brought her to a rugby tryout, and she instantly knew that this was her sport. Her brothers played hockey and her family loves contact sports, so they were very supportive of her decision. 

She used to play other sports but gave them all up for rugby.

Rugby is an intense combination of soccer and football.

“You can drop-kick a ball as well as run it in for a tri, which is basically like a touchdown,” Van Den Heuvel explained. Rugby is played 7 on 7 or 15 on 15. 

Rugby teams are composed of two groups, the front and the back line. Van Den Heuvel is a member of the back line. 

Van Den Heuvel says rugby is “a pretty violent sport.” Bruises and concussions are very common injuries acquired from playing it. Unlike football, rugby players are unprotected because “the girls don’t wear pads when they play, which hurts because you get wrapped-up from the knees and tackled to the ground,” Van Den Heuvel explained. 

For Van Den Heuvel, the most enjoyable aspects of being a rugby team member is that “during the game, you get a lot of aggression out but after you are able to party with the other team and there is a big cookout.”

Van Den Heuvel has been a part of the Flyers for two years and plans to keep playing through high school. 

She attends three practices a week but also spends her own personal time practicing her running, kicking and lifting seven days a week. 

Van Den Heuvel is looking into the possibility of playing rugby in college and is looking forward to her first game of the season on September 14th.

As part of her rugby career, she has traveled to Indiana and New York playing against top competition.