Syrup joins Army rugby team despite never playing the sport

September 19, 2018

Rebecca Syrup rugby

Rebecca Syrup

Even though Anchorage’s Rebecca Syrup had never touched a rugby ball prior to joining the women’s team at the United States Military Academy at West Point, her background in flag football helped make for a smooth transition.

“I was able to pick up the rules of rugby pretty easily,” she told me. “Also, there might have been an accidental stiff arm or two during flag football, and we are allowed to stiff arm in rugby, so that is natural for me.”

Syrup, of West High fame, was a standout quarterback and softball player in high school.

The Army freshman joined the rubgy team because all West Point cadets are required to participate in an athletic activity.

“I like to be physical – I found that out when I was at rugby tryouts,” she said. “I’ve never played a contact sport before, so playing rugby and being introduced to tackling was a great experience.

“I love the physical nature of the sport. There is a quote in our locker room from a poem one of the players wrote and one line is ‘I can spill blood and there won’t be any bad blood.’ That is my favorite line.”

Syrup wants to play flanker on the rugby field.

“Flankers are the ones to hit first off a scrum, so I love that position,” she said.

Syrup arrived at West Point in July and has since completed basic training and started classes. Her major is undecided, but her opinion of West Point is not.

“Army is great. I love West Point. It feels like I was born to be here,” she said.

Syrup is still adjusting to the grueling lifestyle of a first-year cadet. Lots of early mornings and lots of late nights with lots of long runs and pushups in between.

“School is going really well. Sleep deprivation is the hardest challenge lately,” she said. “I’ve made really close friends within my academic year company – Go Apaches! – and my closest friends are on the rugby team.

“Overall the experience here is amazing and very humbling. I’m really grateful to have this opportunity, and rugby is a huge part of why I am happy here.”