HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Majestics Girls’ Rugby Proud To Be Part Of Growing Women’s Sports Movement

Jun 8, 2024, 12:22 PM | Updated: 5:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Interest has never been higher in women’s sports and it’s still growing as fans continue to learn and appreciate high-level female athletes.

While most fans and athletes are gravitating to the “typical” sports like basketball with Caitlin Clark, gymnastics with Simone Biles, soccer with Alex Morgan, or tennis with Serena Williams, there is another sport growing in demand in the US and Utah happens to house one of the better teams.

Rugby is wildly popular overseas and gaining traction in America.

Utah of course, has their own professional men’s team in the Warriors, but also has a girl’s high school club team in the Majestics that has a National Title to their name along with being three-time Utah State Champions.

The Majestics just wrapped up their season a few weeks ago in Wisconsin, coming up a little short in their second run at a National Title in two years. However, their story is just beginning as part of the positive movement women’s sports are having across the country.

 There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

Leading the way for the Majestics is a sister duo in head coach Angela Tuiaki and assistant coach Jennifer Sika who were part of the original Majestics team back in 2010.

Both sisters talked about how during that first year in 2010, rugby was taking off in Utah for women with a bunch of club teams popping up. Tuiaki and Sika played on a few of those club teams for a short time before deciding to create their own team with a culture that was more inclusive- particularly for women coming from the west side of the Salt Lake valley.

“We came and did our own thing,” Tuiaki said. “We were in the Glendale area in West Valley. We knew a lot of kids and the young women at the time too from church so we just decided to pull together and see if we couldn’t put together a team from the area. That’s where it started.”

“What I remember is that we have so many athletic kids from Glendale,” Sika added. “The way those programs were run- just wasn’t how we functioned. We decided to do it our way because it was more inclusive- we wanted to be more inclusive. All of the kids had scholarships for other sports, but it was summertime and we told them we were going to play rugby. Sure enough. These basketball and volleyball players came together and became a team.”

Unfortunately, the first rendition of the team didn’t stick for more than a year due to everyone heading off to college or to go on missions, getting married, having kids, starting careers- all the normal “adult” stuff.

“It died after that year because all of our players went back to their scholarships,” Sika said. “Some of them got married, went on missions. We had to be ‘responsible’.”

A Sleeping Giant Stirs

It took nearly a decade before the Majestics reassembled, but unlike the first time, the second rendition has had staying power and unbelievable growth including earning their 501c3.

Round two started thanks to Tuiaki and Sika’s nieces joining a local high school rugby program and not being satisfied with the results.

“We went to watch and support, but then there was a falling out,” Sika said. “We left and unbeknownst to us, the kids followed. When this team followed- we couldn’t leave them hanging.”

The group of girls who left the high school team were set to compete at Nationals a week later, but they didn’t want to do it under their high school coach, so Tuiaki and Sika stepped in and essentially revived their team from a decade before.

“They allowed us to play, but under the ‘Barbarians’- we were outcasts,” Sika said. “We couldn’t win the tournament, but we could compete.”

“We did it just so that the kids could play,” Tuiaki added. “We had like 20 of them and they wanted to play. We went in and played under that name just to get to play, but already the talk was, ‘what are we going to do after this?'”

The Majestics Get Kicked Back Into Gear

Shortly after competing at that tournament in 2018, Tuiaki and Sika began work on reinventing their old team.

It was a group effort to get the program off the ground with many of the original Majestics members jumping in to help provide a valuable community resource for up-and-coming young women.

“We played in a different uniform every week that first year,” Tuiaki said. “We just slipped into boys’ uniforms- it was different, but at the same time we had people we played with on the original Majestics. These were people that just started coming back out of the woodworks once we decided to start again.”

One of the most compelling and interesting aspects of the new-era Majestics is that they are primarily run by women and coached by women because the focus is on young women.

“Our board only has two males, and they just barely came in,” Tuiaki said. “The original five that are on the board are all from the original Majestics in 2010. We wanted to bring the name back and build on it.”

The Power Is In The Details

Outside of primarily being operated by women for young women, there is nothing about the Majestics’ name, logo, colors, or culture that isn’t intentionally there to empower and inspire including taking cues from their faith and ethnic background.

Both Tuiaki and Sika have spent a lot of time involved as young women leaders for their ward and stake for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and understand even the smallest details of their influence can have major impacts on lives.

“The influence was the thought of that each daughter of our Heavenly Father is royalty,” Sika said. “I think Majestics came through royalty. We wanted to make sure that when we started this back up that our logo had a crown and a picture of half a face. The whole purpose of us doing this is to not only offer a platform for these young women to go to higher education, but for them to understand who they are and offer them a safe space.”

Tuiaki went on to explain that a lot of their players come from tough existences. Much is done to address the boys and give them a constructive space to learn valuable life skills that come with sports but often the girls get left out despite the fact they also need that kind of guidance.

“We hope that the girls can use Majestics as a turning point,” Tuiaki said. “We use a half face because the girls can use Majestics as a place to start recognizing who they are- they complete the other half of the face. That’s the symbol of it. What can we do to give them this much? And then they do the work to complete it.”

It’s Deeper Than Simply Having Fun

Both Tuiaki and Sika noted that initially they got back into coaching rugby because it is fun, but then started to realize how much they were impacting and changing lives.

Rugby, like any sport at the end of the day, is just a game. However, the valuable lessons, the avenues toward higher education, and safe outlet to express sadness or frustration that rugby provides can’t be beat.

“It used to be that this was just fun because we used to play it and we could teach them how to play it,” Sika said. “Now, there is so much more meaning behind it- the influence we can offer to them, it’s not necessarily an influence directed at a certain goal. The influence- just being a good person- this is the first year we started a code of conduct because we have a lot of kids from the hood. They will fight all day long.”

Sika went on to explain that they’ve had a few girls walk away when problems have had to be addressed, but by and large what they have seen is young women making honest, concerted efforts to give themselves a shot at something better.

“We’ve had kids not return either because they don’t want to bring their parents or they don’t have that kind of support system,” Sika said. “The girls who do end up staying- it’s rewarding for us to see the progress and life changes that maybe the Majestics had a little bit of influence on.”

Not Everyone Has Been On Board, But The Majestics Are Slowly Changing Minds

By and large, the Majestics have received a lot of community support that has made them great in a fairly short period of time, but that also doesn’t mean they haven’t been met with some resistance as well.

“When we first started back in 2010, we were getting wrath left and right,” Tuiaki said. “It was because ‘women don’t play rugby’. In our culture- the Tongan culture it’s just out of character for a woman to be that aggressive. We’re supposed to be home. That’s the culture.”

“It was literally wrath,” Sika chimed in. “We sat in sacrament- our very last sacrament together as a team because our kids were going back to their scholarship sports- one leader got up and chastised us in front of the whole congregation. This is a normality in our culture. We sat there and took it with a grain of salt.”

What A Difference A Decade Makes

In a twist of fate and human growth, the man who stood in church and called the original Majestics squad a “disgrace” over a decade ago now has granddaughters playing on the team.

“It’s come full circle,” Tuiaki said. “When he said it, I don’t think it hurt any of us. It’s come full circle and now the grandkids play rugby.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by RBEAST LLC (@rbeast_at_training)

Additionally, these days, both Tuiaki and Sika say they are met with a significant uptick in support from parents (not that the detractors have completely gone away) and that more of that support is very specifically coming from the dads.

“A prime example of this comes from our Nationals tour we just did- there were no moms there,” Sika said. “It was all dads there to support their daughters. 12 dads volunteered to chaperone, and they took to it. It was a 180 because there wasn’t any male support at all and now these dads from a younger generation not only love their daughters and recognize they are talented.”

The Utah Warriors Are Big Supporters Of The Majestics

Not only have the dads come around to their daughters playing rugby, but now the Majestics are supported and respected by Utah’s pro rugby team, the Warriors.

During their team banquet last month, two representatives from the Warriors came to bestow the inaugural “Utah Warrior Award” to Jasmine Fehoko. They followed it up by voicing their support for the team and anything they can do to help them grow the sport.

“We don’t even know where to start with that,” Tuiaki said. “The Warriors- we’re just attracting all of these people who want to not just build the club up but build the idea of where we could be. Grow the game, grow the women’s part of the game.”

The Warriors are not the only important entity that has shown interest in the Majestics either. Former BYU coach and current South Virginia coach David Smyth, along with current BYU coach Jared Whippy among others have also made an effort to help Tuiaki and Sika give their young female athletes the best experiences and support possible.

“There is a saying out there in sports marketing, ‘we watch women’s sports too,'” Sika said. “These girls are talented. So talented. The males bring so much value to what we are doing. I don’t think we are feminists, but I think there is so much value when both work together.”

Women’s Sports Aren’t A Moment, They Are A Movement And The Majestics Are Proud To Be A Part Of It

For Sika, women’s sports are taking off the way they have because people are coming around to the idea that men don’t compete better than women, just differently, but both modes are valid and entertaining when given a fair chance.

“I think America created this picture in the first place,” Sika said. “The division between male and women’s sports. That boys always do it better than girls. It’s not that they do it better than girls, they just do it differently. I grew up in a generation where, as a girl, I always felt the need to prove myself. I think that background of women’s sports thriving is because girls don’t need to prove themselves anymore. We live in an era now where it’s amazing what these athletes can do. Hopefully it can be perceived in that manner instead of in comparison to their male counterparts.”

Things have progressed so much on the rugby front for women, that the young women Tuiaki and Sika are currently coaching now have tangible future goals they can make with the sport if they so choose.

In 2033 the U.S. will be hosting the World Rugby Cup and it is Tuiaki’s hope that as many Majestics players as possible will be representing on Team U.S.A for the event.

“We’ve talked about it often where these girl’s goals- they never end,” Tuiaki said. “We’re building the drive for that right now. It’s the goal- it’s the Majestic’s goal right now to have as many players in U.S. Rugby for 2033 as possible. If we were talking about this in 2010 when we were playing, it would have been thrown out the window, but now, because of how women’s sports are going- look how open people are. It’s just going to keep opening to every sport. I think we’ve stepped up. I don’t think we’re going to step back.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

High School Sports

AJ Dybantsa, Utah Prep, Basketball Recruit...

Mitch Harper

Nation’s No. 1 Basketball Recruit Will Conclude Prep Career At Utah High School

Five-star prospect will finish his career in Utah.

23 days ago

KSL Sports Livestream with UCCU logo...

KSL Sports

Utah High School 2024 Spring Championships Streaming Guide: Week 3

High School spring championships in the state of Utah conclude this week and is filled with plenty of exciting events.

27 days ago

porter hodge...

Brian Preece

Locals In MLB: Former Cottonwood Colt Set To Make MLB Debut With Chicago Cubs

Former Cottonwood Colt pitcher Porter Hodge could make his MLB debut this week after being called up by the Chicago Cubs on Friday, May 17.

1 month ago

KSL Sports Livestream with UCCU logo...

KSL Sports

Utah High School 2024 Spring Championships Streaming Guide: Week 2

The second of three weeks filled with Utah High School spring championship events streaming on KSLSports.com and the KSL Sports app.

1 month ago

KSL Sports Livestream with UCCU logo...

KSL Sports

Utah High School 2024 Spring Championships Streaming Guide: Week 1

It’s time for high school spring championships that is filled with three weeks of championship events beginning Monday, May 6.

1 month ago

Juan Diego vs. Judge - 2024 Boys Lacrosse...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Rewind: Boys & Girls Lacrosse Week 5 Recap

Dane Stewart of KSL Sports Rewind talked about the action in Week 5 of the 2024 high school season and much more.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption...

Hans & Scotty’s Day Of Adoption

Join the KSL Sports Zone for Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption, in partnership with the Humane Society of Utah, on June 25th, 2024!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Majestics Girls’ Rugby Proud To Be Part Of Growing Women’s Sports Movement