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The Dartmouth
May 28, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Club sports receive fewer safety provisions

Despite rugby's status as one of the most violent and dangerous sports offered at Dartmouth College, the women's rugby team -- as well as other club sports -- is ill-equipped to deal with serious injuries during a competition.

On the Saturday afternoon of Homecoming weekend, female rugger Margaret Cecere '01 went down with a neck injury during a B-side match.

According to co-Captain Rachel Moss '99, an ambulance did not arrive for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Cecere lay on the ground, supported by her coaches and a student Emergency Medical Technician.

"Luckily [her injury] wasn't as bad of a situation as it could have been," Moss said. "But because it was her neck, we wanted the ambulance to get there as soon as possible."

Unlike the men's football games, where an ambulance is required to be on the sidelines during the match, no ambulances are required to be at any other college competitions, according to Head Athletic Trainer Jeff Frechette. The cost of the football team's ambulance is absorbed by the Dartmouth Athletic Department.

But as Moss pointed out, rugby games are often characterized by the same types of hard hits and serious injuries found in football games.

"Rugby is full contact with no padding. The only thing we wear is mouth guards," she said.

Moss also pointed out that many tournaments she has attended have had ambulances on the sidelines, which are frequently used.

In addition to the two women's matches in progress that day, the men's team was also competing on a nearby pitch, as was the Ultimate Frisbee team, according to Moss.

Under the rules for Dartmouth's club sports, a team must have a trainer or an EMT on the field during any competition, according to Assistant Director of Physical Education and Intramural Athletics Steve Erickson.

The women's rugby team provides its own student EMTs, but as coach Deb Archambault said, the EMTs are often not trained to deal with certain technicalities of the sport, such as taping up players before a game.

"We've been using student EMTs, who have been very helpful, but they generally are not qualified trainers for game preparation," she said.

The captains and coaches of the rugby team are also trained with basics such as how to use the emergency phone at Sachem Field, Erickson said. But it is the responsibility of the team to find their own trainers and pay for them.

The main reason the College does not sponsor more medical aid at club sport competitions has to do with financial resources.

"With 34 varsity sports and only six people in my department, there is no way to cover all of them," Frechette said. "There is also a distinction between club sports and varsity athletics."

Frachette's training center is primarily responsible for all of the NCAA sports at Dartmouth, but teams such as the rugby team can, and do, use their facilities when an injury arises. However, no trainer from Frachette's department is responsible for either of the men's or women's rugby teams.

Archambault, who has been involved with women's rugby at Dartmouth since 1982, said if the team had enough money, it could probably provide an ambulance at every game. But she also said that "in general, the ambulances are very quick to arrive. The 15-20 minute wait during Homecoming was not standard."

Most Hanover and Lebanon ambulances have an "incredible" response time of less than five minutes, Erickson said. Therefore, he said he sees no need for an ambulance at each game.