Heather Hale

Jamie Burke (Educ ’02, ’05) was wandering through the Student Activities Fair early in her first year at UVA when she was waylaid by a rugby player. “She said, ‘You look like you could be a rugby player. You should come out and play rugby,’” Burke recalls.

Good call. Burke, a multisport high school athlete, was living in a single room and looking for a social outlet, so she gave rugby a shot.

That was eight years ago. In September, Burke was among a three-woman UVA contingent that helped the U.S. women’s national team to a 4-1 record and a fifth-place finish at the quadrennial World Cup, held in Edmonton, Alberta. She played alongside national team veteran Heather Hale (Col ’98, Educ ’98). Maria Carmela de Luna (Engr ’95) served as a team trainer.

The U.S. lost its opening match to eventual Cup runner-up England, then defeated Ireland, Australia (twice) and Scotland to claim fifth place. New Zealand won the title.

Both Burke and Hale—who also played varsity field hockey—are veterans of UVA’s club team, which has a rich history in collegiate rugby circles, having reached the round of 16 in the national tournament every year since 1999.