Rugby: Dinkel goes to national trial

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By Mike Cote

It took awhile for Liz Dinkel to figure out what sport she wanted to take part in, but once she did, she became pretty darn good at it.

So much so, Dinkel was recently invited to a prestigious camp.

Dinkel, a Los Alamos resident, took part in the USA Women’s 7s rugby trial session last weekend. Dinkel, a standout rugby player for the Los Alamos Rugby Club for several years, was invited by USA Women’s Eagles head coach Ric Suggitt to take part in the three-day camp held at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

Suggitt’s main goal for the camp was to expand the USA club’s talent base. Dinkel, who has been invited to several top-level rugby competitions during her career, caught Suggitt’s attention.

Dinkel, for her part, jumped at the chance.

“Everybody there works hard at the sport,” said the 20-year-old Dinkel. “They’re really good at what they do. It’s nice to have everybody recognize that.”

Prior to her invitation to the camp, Dinkel had spent plenty of time working with the Eastern Rockies Football Union select-side teams, a regional all-star rugby program. She was also selected in 2009 to the U23 select-side program and was chosen to represent the West Rugby Football Union in an inter-territorial all-star tournament.

Playing 7s, however, is a little different than standard rugby. Teams consist of just seven players as opposed to the usual 15 lining up on the pitch. The game is faster paced and more wide open than the traditional 15-player set-up.

The camp, Dinkel said, was both comprehensive and intense. Basic 7s offensive and defensive tactics, ball-handling, field position and tackling were all worked on during the camp.

Things went well at the camp for Dinkel, who’s an old pro at the sport of rugby. She got involved with rugby at a young age and has been at it ever since.

“I started rugby in elementary school,” she said. “Me and my best friend wanted to do something new. We tried basketball and a lot of other sports, but they weren’t really for us.”

Dinkel said it’s been a big help to her progressing in rugby that her dad, Jim Dinkel, has taken an interest in her career.

Her dad has often been the one pushing her through conditioning workouts and his encouragement has been invaluable for her.

Rugby seems to run in the Dinkel family. Younger sister Michelle Dinkel is also a select-side performer for the local rugby team.

This fall, Dinkel will play for the club program at Colorado State University. The season starts almost as soon as she gets up to Fort Collins next month.

Rugby is still played primarily at the club level in college, which is something Dinkel said appeals to her.

“Whoever wants to play gets to play,” she said. “That’s why rugby’s great. You can step on to the rugby field even if you’ve never played before.”