Camile White said she was always the smallest player on the rugby pitch growing up.
It made her feel intimidated, she said, but the recent Westminster High School graduate has gained more confidence in the sport as the years progressed. She started playing two-hand touch, or non-contact, rugby when she was 8 years old.
Non-contact rugby is a modified version of the sport that places greater emphasis on the development of running, handling and support play. White joined the West Carroll Marauders two-hand touch program in seventh grade, but said her coaches encouraged her to play tackle relatively early.
“When I was in middle school, I didn’t really have a rugby attitude,” White said. “I wasn’t smart about things. I just played and people recognized me for it. There’s a lot more to it than what I knew when I first went to camps. I started learning more and it was surprising about how much I didn’t know.”
White plays in two types of rugby matches — sevens, and fifteen a-side. There are differences to both types, including the number of players on the field and the duration of a game. A regular game of rugby lasts 80 minutes, but a game of sevens is seven minutes each way.
Each player should be able to execute all skills in sevens. White plays scrum half and hooker in this particular game and she plays center in fifteen a-side.
“I played soccer, too, but rugby was always my primary sport,” White said. “As I got older, things got more serious. Coaches started to recognize me more, I became an All-American, and ever since then, it’s taken off even more.”
White was getting recognized by coaches from other rugby programs during her sophomore and junior years. She eventually switched to play for North Bay, an under-19 program based in Aberdeen.
White has won two Maryland state championships with North Bay, as a junior and a senior.
White has been to several USA Rugby summer camps, and received invites to the Olympic Training Center in California.
A round trip to and from Aberdeen takes about five hours for White, and it’s especially hard in the spring because she also competed on Westminster’s track team. Her track coaches let her practice three days a week, White said, so she could attend rugby practices in Aberdeen two days a week.
White competed in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and ran on the 4x100 and 4x200 relays this spring. She anchored the 4x200 relay that took first at the county championship meet, third at the Class 3A West meet, and 12th at states.
“Track helped me a lot with rugby with opening my stride and agility-wise,” White said. “It keeps me conditioned.”
White said the rugby community is a close-knit one and she has made friends from all over the country, from Hawaii to California to Florida. She will attend Penn State this fall to study architecture and play rugby for the Nittany Lions.
“It’s so cool to travel to all those places and see all your friends you’re so close with,” White said. “Rugby is a sport where you really have to trust other players because you’re putting your body on the line for them.