By Lieschen Gargano (Colorado University student class ’09 and rugby player).
The Colorado University Women’s rugby team has been around for over twenty years now and finally after all that time we decided to go on our first international tour to Argentina. We could not have made a better decision for our players and club. It was eight days of amazing experiences, team bonding and of course, rugby. Fifteen CU players, two coaches and two close friends left for Argentina March 20th. After hours on the plane and a pit stop in Texas we finally made it in early Friday morning. We were greeted by our fabulous tour guide Auggie and taken to the hotel via coach bus, where we piled into our rooms before a beautiful welcome lunch at the hotel and our first practice in the humid climate of Argentina. We used the Centro Naval RFC fields and clubhouse and were in awe of the parrots watching us from the trees as we adjusted to our new surroundings.
We played three games on our trip against local women’s sides. The first team was GEI, a wonderful group of girls that could not have been more fun to play for our first Argentine rugby experience. Adjusting to their style of play was the most difficult part of the game. They played fast and hard and came out strong in a whole different style that we had never seen before. It took a long half of adjusting before we were able to play our game against them, but in the end we pulled it out. After our game, we all gathered and ate together at the club. We ended up trading all of the clothes we had on with members of the other team. Most of us traded shorts, socks, shirt, everything!
Our second game was against Centro Naval, their first game as part of the Centro Naval club. GEI came and watched, and we played under the lights at night with all the mosquitoes, and full sidelines. We had a great social and dinner, and got to hang out with our friends from GEI again, working on our Spanish and translating for our teammates.
Our third game was against Malen, a strong fast team with a kicking game that totally threw us off. We played them out near Mar Del Plata, the first real women’s rugby game to come to that area. There were cameras and an announcer and even a crowed come to watch us. The little boys there had us all sign a rugby ball for them to take home and remember the game.
When we weren’t playing rugby we were having fun exploring Buenos Aires and Mar Del Plata. We went to a Boca soccer game, the local super league team, an experience I will certainly never forget and everyone at home is jealous of. The crowds were huge and never stopped jumping and singing for their team. There were banners and streamers and confetti everywhere, it was non stop fun and excitement.
Before our night game against Centro Naval we explored the other Boca, taking a boat tour around the delta and eventually stopping for some time on the beach and even a little swimming. It was a real great cultural experience because we got to see a real local place that people from Buenos Aires love to spend time, and we loved it as well. The weather was perfect, the people were so nice and we never wanted to leave.
My favorite time on the trip had to be the beach at Mar Del Plata. We didn’t have to go anywhere we just laid out on the beach, body surfed the waves and soaked up the beauty around us. We came just after their summer break when everyone went back to school so we practically had the beach to ourselves.
We were devastated to have to go home, especially after such wonderful days on the beach, and there is no doubt the experience will be with all of us for a long time to come. We are so much closer as a team, our play improved through all the quick adjustments we had to make to be successful against the argentine teams, and it all just made for an amazing experience we never could have had on a normal vacation.
See the full photo album here.