Rugby is by no means a North American sport. Of the four major sports Canadians pay attention to, football is the one rugby is frequently thought to resemble. But UTM’s Bianca Marchione thinks the two have little in common.

“Many are unfamiliar with the sport itself, along with how it’s played. It’s not similar to football,” she says.

Marchione is a fourth-year chemistry and biology major and a player on the Varsity Blues women’s rugby team. Her love for the sport began in Grade 10, when she began playing high school rugby, winning the MVP award in 2009. The physical nature of the game, however, drew her interest more than anything. “I was attracted to the sport basically because it’s full contact,” says the 21-year old Marchione. “The idea of hitting and not getting penalized blew my mind.”

After coming to UTM for the science program and loving the campus, Marchione decided to try out for the varsity team in her freshman year and made it. During her first season with the team, the Blues earned a 1-4-1 overall record, a less-than-pleasing result. Marchione didn’t participate during her second and third years, but resumed playing with the team in her fourth year, when the team went winless in their five-game season.

Nevertheless, Marchione is assured the team is improving, and plans on returning to the team for its 2014 run. “The varsity level provides me with the opportunity to further develop as a player in this sport and sets another standard of play,” she says.

The Richmond Hill native has seen support for the sport grow at the varsity level over the years, but hopes that this will continue both on campus and nationally.

“I don’t think rugby is advertised very well on campus since many other students I’ve spoken to were unaware that students at UTM could even play, not only for the varsity rugby team, but any other varsity teams as well,” she says.

To maintain a high level of competition in the off-season, Marchione keeps up with cardio and weight training outside of school in addition to off-season training three times a week organized by the Varsity Blues rugby coaches, which are cardio- and skill-based. Marchione also volunteers as a coach with the St. Theresa of Lisieux C.H.S rugby team, her alma mater.