Coach Jess began her rugby history 15 years ago on a trip to Australia. Having fallen in love with the culture, team building, and camaraderie, she wouldn’t pick up the ball again until her grad school courses in Wilmington, NC. She began training with the Cape Fear Men’s Rugby Club, using the knowledge and skills to begin jumping between different women’s teams, including the Charlotte Harlots. After her move to New Orleans, she began playing with the Louisiana Lagniappe, “because we are a little something extra,” and still picks up the ball from time to time. In December of 2014, after nearly a year assisting, she was asked to become the head coach for Tulane University’s young women’s rugby program, leading them to four National Spring Championship’s final four appearances, taking home the Championship in 2016 and 2018. In 2017 she was asked to be an interim coach for the start of a new International Gay Rugby team, the Crescent City Rougaroux, and has remained the head coach ever since. “With every new group I meet, I am reminded about how much I truly love the mentality, toughness, and culture that goes alongwith being called a “Rugger”’.
Hayley grew up watching rugby and playing beach rugby on family vacations, thanks to her dad's Australian heritage. Despite rugby in her blood, she did not begin playing competitively until attending Tulane University. It was at Tulane where Hayley became a nationally recognized hooker (Mom and Dad are proud). Throughout her time at Tulane, Tulane Women's Rugby would become the winningest team in Tulane history with 2 Division II Collegiate National Championships ('16 & '18) and appearing in the final four, four consecutive years. In 2017, Jess mentioned to Hayley that she was asked to help get the Roux off their feet - Hayley immediately wanted in. With that, she became the forward’s coach and has been with the team since the first Rugby 101! Hayley is a firm believer that thick thighs save lives and win scrums! Hayley is proud of the team culture that has been created, the shared camaraderie, and drive possessed by the Roux to continually learn and have fun. She enjoys the added level of joy (and glitter) that the Roux have brought into her life. In her spare time (LOL - what spare time?!), Hayley likes to do squats and nerd out with data.
Gwen is a graduate student at Tulane university, currently working towards her master’s degree in physics. She has been playing rugby since her freshman year of college, and loves tacking the hell out of people.
Joe started playing for the Roux in July 2017, 5 months after the team started practicing and, subsequently, his move to Louisiana. He is currently active duty Navy with 5 years of service and 3 deployments to the Middle East. Joe started playing Rugby after multiple friends convinced him his size was an asset and to try something new and social. Never a high school or collegiate athlete, his first few practices were a mix of hyperventilating and soreness but mixed with happiness and a sense of camaraderie. 2 years later, the only thing that changed has been his closer bond and friendship with his teammates and his progress and improvement as a rugby player. Still sore and out of breath. This year his focus for the team is to have fun and win big! Joe wants the team to show the local, and international communities, that New Orleans is the place for great rugby and that the Rougaroux are leading from the front!
Ryan joined the Roux 3 months after his move to New Orleans. Having no experience in the sport prior, a family friend recommended him come to a practice and gauge his interest. 2 years later, he thoroughly enjoys the physical aspects as well as the community outreach and social involvement that goes into being a member of the team. He looks forward to the continued competitive momentum the team has been building as well as spreading the inclusiveness that is core to being a member of the Crescent City Rougaroux.
Lynx has the honor to be a founding member of the Rougaroux. He does not to say this to make himself sound like a hero or a leader. No, quite the opposite, for when someone asked “Do you want to start a team that allows full contact without protective gear?”, he said yes. This is the mark of a fool. This fool comes from Memphis, where BBQ is real and Elvis is King. Having never touched a Rugby Ball before the Rougaroux, Lynx kept his athleticism to a minimum by playing goal keep in both Soccer and Lacrosse. He also trained in martial arts, which as it turns out, has not been a useful skill. Now in New Orleans, Lynx got his masters in Musical Theater (Yes...they have a masters for that! Who knew!?) where he studied vocal performance and now teaches high school at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in the Musical Theater department. While having little to no circus training, Lynx walks the very thin wire between Musical Theatre and Rugby. This is a super fun game to play when one has to sing and dance after a day of screaming and being tackled. The tears on stage? Thats not acting...they are real. For he is in pain.
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Derek started playing rugby while getting his PhD at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and has been playing rugby for 4 and a half years. He likes to play fly-half and center but moves to flanker when needed. Since graduating, he is now a professor of rehabilitation counseling and disability studies. He has been part of the mental health community as a therapist, supervisor, and educator for the past 7 years. He is passionate about working with underserved communities, disability, and normalizing mental health self-care. From Derek, “Rugby is a family. This is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my mental health. The social supports and friends I’ve gained from rugby are immeasurable. I have made new friends from all over the world”
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Jamal first became involved with the Roux after moving to New Orleans as part of an active duty military transfer. His husband Dan, the current Player Rep, had already been in contact about joining the team and convinced him to come to the Rugby 101 to learn about the sport. Ever since, he has loved rugby and fully dedicated himself to learn more. In 2018, he travelled with the Atlanta Bucks to the Bingham Cup in Amsterdam. Jamal normally plays as a forward and looks forward to the current development of the team.
Dan has been involved with gay rugby since first learning to play in 2013 with the Atlanta Bucks. He has played on multiple international levels including the 2014 Sydney and 2016 Nashville Bingham tournaments. Dan continues to play the sport and serve on the board because he wants to bring the same level of inclusiveness and “family” that made him fall in love with the IGR community. Please feel free to contact him if you have any team related questions, comments, concerns or KiKi’s.