Action County: Kristin Yankowski
Understanding the positions in rugby is as tough as taking a trigonometry test. Kristin Yankowski, however, happens to be an expert on both subjects.Yankowski teaches math at Summit High School and plays for two rugby teams. She spends June through August playing for the Summit Sevens and August through November playing for the Harlequin Olde Girls of Denver.Yankowski plays a position called the loose head prop. Playing in the front line of the scrum, the loose head prop is responsible for “holding up” the hooker. The hooker and loose head prop are joined on the field by the tight head prop, lock, eightman, scrum half and fly half. Simple enough, isn’t it?Rugby shares many of the same characteristics as football, but is very unique in that the play never stops. The two teams continuously fight for field position until one successfully advances the ball into the opposition’s end zone for a “try.”A try is worth five points and is followed by the “conversion” for two more. Teams can also gain points by drop kicking the ball through the opponent’s uprights for three points at any time during the game.
Yankowski began playing rugby just three and a half years ago, when she moved up to the High Country. Of all sports, Yankowski said she picked rugby because, “like they say, softball’s full.”As a member of the Harlequin Olde Girls, Yankowski has faced competition from all across the country. Harlequin is a member of the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union, and finished 11th in the nation last year. The team belongs to a league which is part of USA Rugby.Before she played rugby, Yankowski was an “Olympic caliber” swimmer in high school. She also ran cross country and competed in shot put and discuss. However, it is very unlikely that any of that experience helped prepare her for the nasty sport of rugby.Despite the extreme physical contact, rugby players wear a limited amount of padding. A srum cap along with a thin layer of shoulder pads are the only protection a player has on the field.When she is not in the classroom or on the rugby field, Yankowski enjoys skiing, hiking and bike riding.
What is the worst rugby injury you have ever witnessed?”I saw a girl snap her femur once. We also see a lot of people get knocked out or receive bloody noses.”What do you say to those who don’t understand rugby?
“It really is the best of all sports. It has the fundamentals of football, basketball and soccer in the fact that you have to run a lot.”Why don’t rugby players wear more padding, like football players?”They say it’s a pure sport and that you don’t have to depend on padding like football. You have to learn to tackle without hurting your body, which requires a lot of skill.”
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