Originally Published 15 October 2020
Rugby is one of the best sports in the world – I cannot describe the respect and admiration I have for people who play this sport. The thing that I love the most about rugby is the mutual respect and trust between players and their resilience. You could be getting tackled over and over again (covered in bruises and the occasional sight of blood), but each time, you get up, dust off, and continue to play. No matter how competitive or intense a match is, everyone is polite, humorous, and friendly with each other after the final whistle. Rugby follows a simple rule: ‘whatever happens on the pitch, stays on the pitch’. There is no room for negativity, only excellent sportsmanship.
My name is Lena Kibler, and I am a third-year student at Technological University Dublin studying Computer Science Infrastructure. Besides being a student, I am also a part-time Food and Beverage Assistant at Amber Springs Hotel in Gorey, a devoted rugby player in both college and at Sutton Rugby Football Club, as well as being a self-taught tattoo practitioner in my spare time.
I chose my college course because, from a very early age, I enjoyed working with my hands and helping people out with any issues from fixing a shelf to helping someone out with their computer/laptop issues (most of the time, it was the case of the famous ‘turn it off and on again’). That led me to consider a career in the tech industry. As I was not quite sure if this was the right career path for me, I decided to first attend a PLC course in Computer Science to test the waters. After completing the one-year course, I knew that the tech world would be somewhere that I could really excel at and grow. The fact that a career in the tech industry is usually associated with higher wages was only a bonus!
I am originally from Poland. I have been living in Ireland for just over 10 years now, so I really feel like I have two home countries now. I also only recently moved up to Dublin from Gorey, Co. Wexford. The main reason behind the move was to cut out on the commute time to college (sometimes, the commute exceeded 4 hours a day). The other major reason why I moved up to Dublin was to be able to attend all my rugby trainings at my new club in Sutton. As I am one of the newest members of the team, I really wanted to make sure I was in the best possible position to fully dedicate myself to trainings and matches.
I first became interested in rugby when I moved to Ireland (rugby was not really a major sport in Poland when I lived there). I think it was in my 5th year of secondary school that I first decided to attend a rugby training session at my previous local rugby club in Arklow. I do not know if people believe in love at first sight, but I immediately fell in love with the sport and felt it was the perfect fit for me.
I have recently joined the TRIBE – Suttonians Women’s Rugby Team. As I am only new to the team, I am still to secure a starting position, although I am currently being trained for the scrum-half position, and that’s the position I am hoping to develop and excel at the most. In my previous club, I was starting as number 12 (Inside Centre).
I am also the founder and captain of the Technology University Dublin Women’s Rugby Team. When I first attended TUD, I really wanted to join the college women’s rugby team. After attending the clubs and societies fair, I noticed that there was no representation for a women’s rugby team. I then decided to contact the sports office within the college to find out more information. This is where I found out that there was never really a proper 15’s women’s rugby team within the college, so I decided to change that. The staff within the sports office in the college were so incredibly encouraging and supported me along the way. We had fliers printed out that I distributed around the college with my details on them to try and attract new players. I also attended all of the freshers’ week fairs as the representative of the team, which proved to be very effective.
So far, the team is still very much in the development stage, especially now in the Covid-19 state of the world – it’s much harder to keep the ball rolling, but I am very optimistic about the future of the team. Even though we haven’t had the chance to enter a league yet, we have managed to organise a Christmas party and an end-of-season night out with the fellow men’s rugby team – after all, college is about meeting new people and creating memories, and I think joining a sports team is the best way to go about it.
From my experiences, I think a lot of responsibility and pressure should be put on universities in terms of creating and promoting sporting clubs and societies for women. It is not enough to wait for someone to come along and do the hard work. Professional employees should be hired to look after the sporting structure and make sure it’s diverse and friendly to all genders. More women should be given the opportunity and platform to speak about their sport and sporting experiences, because those are the influencers that are going to shape and inspire generations of amazing female athletes.
I have had many other great experiences with rugby. In terms of captaining the TU Dublin team, I have to say that attending each training session was great. The girls were always so optimistic and willing to learn and train even in the wind and rain; it made me feel like all the hard work and extra time spent into putting the team together was worth it. I believe that every college/institution should have a women’s rugby team. It is time for women in sport to get the coverage and attention they deserve.
In terms of rugby, my main future goal is to be able to play at a professional standard. For now, I am working hard to prove myself and make a mark in my current rugby club, as well as promote women’s rugby within my university.
The major similarity between playing rugby and my Computer Science course is teamwork. Rugby allowed me to really understand the meaning of being a team player. I carry those skills with me throughout my studies at TU Dublin. The tech industry is built on collaborations and teamwork, so I feel like rugby and tech work together somehow. Rugby also allowed me to become a great team player and even a team leader. I believe those skills will really benefit me in my future tech career.
My advice to anyone interested in playing rugby is to do some research and give it a ‘try’. Many people can be discouraged by the idea of rugby because of the physical aspect of it, but they do not realise how much satisfaction and self-improvement it can offer. So, my advice is very simple – just research your local clubs and dive right in; it might just be love at first tackle.
There is always more than tech. I think it is very important to share the sporting passions of technologists, as I believe many people are under the impression that people in the tech industry are completely consumed by their profession/career. There is absolutely always more to a person than just the tech. Don’t judge a book by its cover, or a person by their career.