Memphis women's rugby team makes first trip to championship

(WMC-TV) - In 11 years of playing rugby, Cheryl Coulson has broken fingers, sprained ankles and been head butted by her own teammate, leaving her with two black eyes.

Despite the injuries, Coulson cannot get enough.

"Rugby is awesome," said Coulson.  "I like the feeling of having the ball and knowing I can run that person over."

The collision sport dates back to 19th century England, played with an oval ball and no pads.

The Memphis Flamingos have been the Bluff City's Women's Rugby Club team since 2004, holding practices at the dimly lit Tobey Park, and playing their games on Saturdays.

This season, the Flamingos have not lost a match.  They finished the regular season 11-0 before their first trip to the Division II National Championship in Virginia Beach.

"We are pumped, we can't wait," said Barbara Radebaugh, a first year player with the Memphis Flamingos.  "We got the countdown going, been raising a lot of money to get there, and we've been practicing hard and we are going to put it all out there and see what happens."

The players are close, and they are dedicating this championship run to the player who cannot be there to see it.  In May of 2009, former Flamingos player Jennifer Hanna died in a car accident.

It is a rugby tradition to plant a tree in honor of a fallen teammate.  Six months after Hanna passed away, the Flamingos planted a tree at Tobey Field to dedicate in her memory.

The Memphis Flamingos ended in seventh place at the championship tournament.  They finished the season 13-2.

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