MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — After being sidelined by the pandemic, the McAllen Maidens Women’s Rugby team is determined to make a long-awaited comeback in early 2022.

The McAllen Maidens were established in 2018 by Alex Ramirez, Texas Rugby Union Hall of Fame member, and became the first women’s rugby team in the Rio Grande Valley.

This season the Maidens will be playing rugby in the “7s” format which pits seven players on each team against each other. The objective of the game is to work with your team to try and get the ball across the field and into the scoring area similar to American Football.

However, there are no forward passes in rugby, and only the person with the ball can be tackled. Once a player is tackled, they must immediately let go of the ball and it is free for either team to grab the ball once it’s free.

This fast-paced sport has been part of Ramirez’s life for over 40 years. In that time he has founded not just the Maidens, but also the McAllen Knights, Kingwood Crusaders, and Tec de Monterrey rugby teams.

“Rugby has been a great part of my life, a very important one, and very satisfactory. ” Ramirez said. “Sometimes very difficult. Sometimes you don’t get enough players, sometimes you get a lot of players.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the McAllen Maidens to stay out of action until the approval was given that they could continue play.

That gap of time saw members leave the team, and now the Maidens are looking to fill out the team to continue regular play.

“I really do encourage any of you girls that are interested in a sport that you didn’t think you’d be able to do. Come do it. It’s possible” Marshawnna Snyman, a prop player for the maidens said. “[rugby] is teamwork, camaraderie, so please come join us”

The camaraderie and togetherness are felt throughout all members of the team.

“The way we are as women. The way we carry ourselves and how we always have each others back.” Kelly Vargas, outside-center for the team, said. “Even though we could be mad at each other. We’re like family, like sisters, we’ll come back and just enjoy who we are and just the fact that we have each others support.”

Maggie Rodriguez, the current team captain and president of the Maidens, says that she first joined the team in 2018 after seeing a friend of hers going to practices.

“I was looking for something different. I was trying to get into shape, and I really enjoyed it and stayed,” Rodriguez said. “I made some really great friends and I’ve had a really great time learning about the sport.”

The Maidens hold practice every Monday and Wednesday from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Rosalyn Suarez Park in McAllen. They welcome anybody interested in being part of the team to come by the park on practice days.

The Maidens are slated to have their first official game under the Texas Rugby Union on Jan. 22, 2022.