Mud wrestling, then, is an appropriate means of fund-raising for a primal, carnal sport such as rugby.
For the second year, the Westport Beach Club hosts its Girls -- Down and Dirty Mud Wrestling Fundraiser for the Kansas City Jazz, our nationally ranked women's rugby team. Female and male beasts alike can contribute twenty bones for a round in the ring with one of the players. Or forty bucks for some two-on-one action, and so on -- however many rugby players they want to take on. But challengers shouldn't expect anything more than a good, mostly clothed fight.
"It's a fund-raiser, so we're semi-selling ourselves," says Jazz team member Sarah Ratzlaff. "But we're not going to be out there flashing titties or anything." Nonetheless, Ratzlaff will be fighting under the wrestling pseudonym Tootsie Pop and entering the ring to her own fight music -- Lil' Kim and Sisqo's classy "How Many Licks."
"It's mud wrestling with women, so there's obviously some sexual innuendo," Ratzlaff concedes. "But it's funny because we're rugby girls. We're not thought of as bikini models."
That didn't matter much at last year's fest, which raised $2,300 toward traveling expenses for rugby competitions. The Jazz plays all over the country on the rugby circuit -- Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego, St. Louis and elsewhere -- representing the West Union in USA Rugby's Heart of America territory. The decade-old club has been undefeated in its union since 1995 and is now ranked eighth in the nation.
Ratzlaff started on the collegiate circuit at the University of Kansas and has been with the Jazz for more than a year now, playing flyhalf. But she doesn't expect anyone to know what that means.
"Not a lot of people in America seem to understand rugby or are interested in it," she says. (For the record, the flyhalf is usually a good kicker and a key decision maker with the ball.)
Ruby Simms, who plays the speedy, goal-happy wing position, agrees with Ratzlaff and hopes the team's Westport exposure will generate as much interest in her sport as it does in mud sloshing. She also emphasizes that the purpose of the tournament is twofold -- this is a good time to recruit new members. The fall season begins with a qualifying tournament in August, and would-be players of all ages and experience levels are invited to meet the women and get information on joining the club, now about twenty women strong.
"Anybody can come and play rugby with us," Simms says. "Except guys."
Guys are welcome on Friday at the Beach Club, however, where the brave will receive T-shirts commemorating their valiant battles. Crowd members who are afraid to get muddy can pay to pit team members against one another. But true warriors will brave the inflatable swimming pool of slop.