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Sophomore Bethany Studnicky pictured in the Emory Women’s Rugby Club’s “Because of Rugby” campaign. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Han.

By Jacob Durst
Staff Writer

“Because of Rugby, I am fearless … Because of Rugby, I know I can do anything … Because of Rugby, I feel invincible … Because of Rugby, we are always a team … Because of Rugby, I have a family.”

With inspiring and empowering messages like these, the Emory University Women’s Rugby Club’s  (EUWRC) new online photo campaign has garnered attention far beyond the Emory campus. Among the latest to notice were the World Rugby Shop, Women’s Rugby Digest and Buzzfeed.

Pictures of the team, all of which are accompanied by the phrase “Because of Rugby,” have been blasted across the Internet over the past couple of weeks, and it has all been a part of the team’s newest way to drum up awareness for and attention to one of Emory’s lesser-known club sports.

“The goal for the ideas and effort behind the photos was to have fun and be proud of ourselves, while also recruiting new teammates, and I would say that the outcome definitely exceeded our expectations,” EUWRC Recruitment Chair and junior Rebecca Han said.

Han, the photographer for the campaign, added that other collegiate teams as well as the World Rugby Shop have contacted the team to learn more about them or congratulate them in response to the campaign.

Because of the team’s relative anonymity, its players had to be creative in their efforts to draw attention to themselves.

“The hardest part of recruiting at a small school is that people either do not even know we exist, or are unfamiliar with the sport and too intimidated to try it out,” EUWRC President and senior Danielle Berkowsky said. “Our goal was to show Emory women that rugby is for everybody.”

Berkowsky came up with the idea for the campaign, which the team later named “#BecauseofRugby.”

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Sophomore Zoe Adberg photographed for the Emory Women’s Rugby Club’s “Because of Rugby” campaign. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Han.

“While I was the one who thought of the idea and implemented the campaign, it really was really a team effort,” Berkowsky said. “[Han] had been wanting to do a professional photo shoot for the team, and with the help and support of the rest of our exec board, the pieces just fell into place, and the response was incredible.”

Despite their former lack of publicity, the team has been succeeding throughout the last decade. Coached by three current and former members of the professional rugby team, the Atlanta Harlequins, the Eagles have reached new heights, culminating with a USA Rugby South Championship title in 2013.

While the team is already competitive, they are still looking for new team members. Both Berkowsky and Han emphasized that there is no specific try-out period for the EUWRC. Anyone who wants to work hard is welcome to join, they said.

“EUWRC is a team of strong, determined women who would do anything for each other on or off the field,” Berkowsky said. “These girls have found not only something to keep them healthy and active, but something to bind them together throughout their college careers.”

– By Jacob Durst, Staff Writer

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The Emory Wheel was founded in 1919 and is currently the only independent, student-run newspaper of Emory University. The Wheel publishes weekly on Wednesdays during the academic year, except during University holidays and scheduled publication intermissions.

The Wheel is financially and editorially independent from the University. All of its content is generated by the Wheel’s more than 100 student staff members and contributing writers, and its printing costs are covered by profits from self-generated advertising sales.