BYU women's rugby team enjoys national support for opting out of Sunday play

by | Apr. 21, 2010

Saints & Sports

They would have done it anyway. But it was easier for the BYU women's rugby team to walk away from a shot at a national championship knowing so many people were on their side.

In Sanford, Fla., this past weekend, the club team forfeited their second-round game against Penn State in the USA Rugby collegiate tournament because the organization mistakenly scheduled them to play on Sunday if they won Saturday. The 35 women — all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU students — were crushed when they found out about the scheduling mishap the Monday before the competition. To play would mean breaking their Sabbath, though, and that simply wasn't an option.

Within days, they were contacted by the New York Times to discuss their decision. Many of the women were focused on their dashed personal dreams. The Times' interest caused them to realize that perhaps their sacrifice mattered to more people than just them.

Then the e-mails started coming in, some from fellow Mormons, some from Baptist ministers, and one particularly poignant message from senior Jewish tennis player Bob Litwin, who in 2004 refused to play in his world championship finals match for athletes 55 and over because it took place on Yom Kippur. The following year, he won the world championship.

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