One of the great things about the LGBT sports community in Washington is that when a need arises, someone generally steps forward. After many seasons of overcrowding at other rugby clubs, Matt Beale and Arc Riley have spent the better part of the last year putting together a new club, the Washington Scandals Rugby Football Club.
“A lot of people who want to play rugby often don’t get the chance because of the competitiveness of the sport,” says Scandals President Riley. “We wanted to create a developmental club so everyone can have a chance to play.”
Last fall, Beale and Riley contacted friends from an LGBT Canadian team, the Ottawa Wolves, for advice on the formation of the Washington Scandals, which will make its full contact tournament debut at Beaver Bowl VI in Ottawa Aug. 24-25, a Wolves-hosted event that coincides with Ottawa Pride.
Practices began for the Scandals in March with much of the concentration on safety and rules. They’ve been using teaching techniques similar to guidelines found in high schools which focus on skills such as tackle safety and scrum safety. The safety measures have been a recurring theme of their practices with the coaching staff repeating the fundamentals on a regular basis.
The Scandals are playing coed touch rugby during the summer months as a way to combat the heat.
“There is a wide spectrum of body shapes and sizes on our team,” Riley says. “We are using touch rugby for fitness purposes and to avoid sunstroke.”
The group is still looking for a permanent practice field and is currently practicing at multiple locations in the Arlington area on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m. The current roster of Scandals players who are registered with USA Rugby is at 18 with an additional 10 players in line for membership status. Dues for the club are $120 per year with financial assistance available.
After practices, the players can often be found socializing over pizza and beer at the Green Lantern where they also hold fundraising nights once a month.
One of the future goals of the Scandals is to become a full member of the International Gay Rugby Association and Board. Once they meet the qualifications, they will be eligible to compete in the Bingham Cup, the gay rugby union world cup. The Bingham Cup will be contested in Sydney, Australia in August, 2014.
One step in that direction is a full contact match to be played in July against the Delmarva Rugby Club which will feature play in the 15-per-side format which includes eight forwards and seven backs.
For the fall season, the Scandals have applied for Division IV status in the Capital Geographic Union, which will be one of the split unions of the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union which will cease to exist in August. Developmental and socials clubs will play within Division IV and the full season will be split between the fall and spring.
Riley shared a wonderful story about something that happened at their booth at the Capital Pride Festival this year.
“A potential player approached our table and asked if we were accepting transgendered players,” he says. “I replied that everyone is welcome to play and one of our coaches is transgender. The kid’s face just lit up.”
Acceptance, diversity and sports! The Washington Scandals are a great addition to the LGBT sports family of Washington.
The locations of their practices are updated regularly on their Facebook page at Washington Scandals RFC. They’re online at dcscandals.org.