Prom dresses and rugby go together like chicken and waffles — it’s not an obvious combination but, after the Occidental rugby teams put them together for their annual prom dress game Saturday, it’s hard to see how anyone could ever have lived without it.
The game is an annual tradition: Both the men’s and women’s teams show up to Jack Kemp Stadium in $2 Goodwill prom dresses, split their squads and play a friendly game with no tackling. They also invite anyone interested in the sport to put on a dress, sign a waiver and join them on the field.
But sometimes, even though the prom dress game is in theory no contact, that waiver is necessary. At this Saturday’s game, one of the players, Yumi Kobayashi (first year) was injured during the game. However, other than that and the bloody knees that inevitably come with playing rugby on turf, the game stayed light-hearted and nonviolent.
“It’s really fun, and it’s a really nice tradition to have this friendly, enthusiastic-yet-violent game at the end of the semester with both teams and whoever else we can convince to play rugby, whether or not they know how,” Shea Backes (sophomore) said.
Some players, like Grace Gowan (sophomore), build traditions around the tradition — she asks someone to the prom dress game every year. This year, she popped the question to her friend by changing the lyrics of a Taylor Swift song.
According to men’s team president Andy Eichar (senior), the game brings the men’s and women’s teams closer together.
“It’s always been a fun game between men and women to really show that we’re all rugby players,” Eichar said. “It doesn’t matter gender, size, speed, we can all play the game together, we can all have fun together. It’s all part of the game.”
The game itself is casual; players only keep score if they want to, and they stop playing when they’re tired, as opposed to following a clock. Nathan Bolton* (junior) said that the game serves as a reminder for players, particularly the men, not to take themselves too seriously. Eichar echoed this sentiment.
“We’re not afraid to be seen in a dress,” Eichar said. “We just wanna play rugby.”
Backes appreciated that both the men’s and women’s teams take a playful approach to the game.
“The whole point is that we’re playing a very violent and physical game and we’re now doing it in prom dresses,” Backes said. “And that’s funny.”
*Bolton is a Weekly staff member.