There are over 600 documented women’s teams in the United States, including the Goats, Pigs, Landsharks, Kangaroos, Ice Maidens, Black Sheep, Brewsers, Harlots, Bullets, Rifles, Banshees, Cherry Bombs and Bombshells.
While any of those names is worthy, they didn’t make our first side of weird names. For the teams that we did choose, some are/were lighthearted social sides; others are/were quite good. For example, the Eugene Housewives, Atomic Sisters, and Houston Heathen Hearts competed for National Championships. The Ale Wives and Maulie Maguires were strong, foundational clubs who influenced regional rugby landscapes. But all rugby pedigree aside, we just wanted to appreciate the sense of humor that runs through rugby.
So here are some of the stories behind our top 17 weirdest team names:
The Phoenix Squash Blossoms, AZ (1975)
I really tried to find out the backstory on this one, even checking the Guide to Arizona Agriculture where there was no mention of Squash as a significant crop in the state...so I’m stumped. But the Squash Blossoms were the real deal. They were one of the first teams in the nation and they were good! Rosters and team pics can be found in early tournament programs from the west and Pacific coast. They did squash some folks….
The Eleanors, CA (1973)
The Eleanors were one of the first six teams in the country. Jeanie Salisbury, one of the founders of the team, was a folk singer who performed the song, Eleanor Rigby so, it wasn’t much of a leap to Eleanor Rugby. (Mary Doan)
The Fort Collins Plum Nuts, CO (19XX) The name came from “We’re plum nuts about rugby.” They were the first team I played against when I joined the Colorado University women’s team. Many of the former Plum Nuts moved to the Olde Girls when the PNs folded, and some later played for Black Ice, both Denver teams. (Matty Leighton)
The Golden Zonkers, CO (1977) The team name came from the snack food Screaming Yellow Zonkers which was popular in the 1970s. It was caramel corn with nuts. (Matty Leighton)
The Spo-de-odees, CO (pre-1979) The Spo-de-odees were short lived; they may have been a social side that came together for tournaments. The word, spo-de-odee comes from a rugby song: “Drinking wine, spo-de-odee, drinking wine . . . pass that bottle to me!” (Matty Leighton)
The Moscow Dusty Lentils, ID (1977) The Dusty Lentils were the original women's team from the University of Idaho. The Washington Idaho border is called ‘“the land of lentils.” The team is called the Dusty Lentils because the lentils grown here are Egyptian lentils (also called dusty, orange-red lentils). They harbor an unbelievable amount of dust on their surface. For families who grow lentils, as my family has in Hailey Idaho and Palouse Washington, you learn to be careful of the old bag of lentils in the food storage basement, if you toss them around you are likely to get a face full of dust. Speaking of dark basements, years later the Dusty Lentils renamed themselves the Black Widows. You got to love that! (Audrey Billingsley)
The Chicago Northshore Ale Wives, IL (1975)
Nope, this isn’t just a reference to beer drinking spouses; it's a nice double entendre. An Alewife is a kind of herring that plagued Lake Michigan in the 1960’s. Each year there would be a massive ‘die-off’ of the Alewife and millions of dead fish would wash up on the beaches of Lake Michigan and stink out the city. Eventually the city introduced salmon into Lake Michigan who ate the Alewives and solved the massive die-offs.
The New Orleans Half Moons, LA (1978)
One of the oldest continuous teams in the nation and one of the most fun, the Half Moons truly represent the best of New Orleans. “In the beginning we always went to a bar after practice called the Half Moon bar where we would get beers, oysters on the half shell and fresh crabs. It was an old New Orleans hang out for local politicians. We made an interesting mix.” (Tracey Moens)
The Minnesota Menagerie, MN (1986)
The Menagerie were originally called the Heebie Jeebies until they changed their name to Menagerie. Good call. The Menagerie were a fabulous group in the 1990s. They absolutely killed it at Maggotfest 1995. Teams often create a theme for the weekend, and theirs was “Menagerie Missionaries.” They had bowling shirts made with their mothers’ or grandmothers’ names embroidered on the chest, and they toted around a length of plastic stair covering and a set of bowling pins, set it up as a lane, covered it with beer, and did beer slides, knocking the pins down with their heads. They also played very well. They had programs with an explanation of the theme, photos, a list of tour fines, and witty player bios. I just pulled it out and it made me giggle uncontrollably. (Matty Leighton)
The Las Vegas Slots, NV (2001)
The name, Las Vegas Slots is self explanatory and a pretty damn clever name. Their logo is really nice. Go online and buy some of their ‘merch.
The Cherry Oh’s, NJ (1982)
A reference to Cherry Hill New Jersey and a play on Cheerios? Not sure…
The Maulie Maguires, NJ (1976)
A unique historical footnote to the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area is the Molly Maguires. The Molly Maguires were a 19th-century secret society active in Ireland, Liverpool, and parts of the Eastern United States, best known for their labor activism among Irish-American and Irish immigrant coal miners in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t much of a leap to change Molly to Maulie. The Maulie Maguires were a good women’s team, particularly in 7’s. Emil Signes coached them from 1983-1995. The team later changed their name to the Lehigh Valley Rugby Club.
The Albuquerque Atomic Sisters, NM (1993)
The Atomic Sisters are a solid D2 team, representing Albuquerque, NM. I’m assuming that the Sisters chose their name to reflect the unique history of Los Alamos, NM (about 95 miles from Albuquerque). Los Alamos is known as the “atomic city” in homage to the Manhattan Project. A bit has been written about the role women played in the Manhattan Project, in those texts they are often referred to as 'atomic sisters'.
The Eugene Housewives, OR (1979)
We started out as the Eugene Women’s Rugby Club, but as we embarked on our second season, Jayme (our charismatic hooker), made a case for the Eugene Housewives.”“Isn’t it great?” she offered, “because none of us are.” I actually liked Housewives – it was irreverent and cheeky, and it fit us. And it played off a rugby song we liked, “I Don’t Want to be a Housewife.” Our baptism as the Housewives wasn’t announced formally. Rather, we slowly began referring to ourselves as The Eugene Rugby Housewives. (Amy Circus)
The Houston Heathen Hearts, TX (1977)
In the 1970’s and 1980’s women’s teams were required to partner with an established men’s team in order to be recognized by the Texas Rugby Union. We had just started to organize ourselves as a club and we were practicing at Memorial Park after the local Houston Heathens men’s rugby club. The Heathens agreed to support our bid which required us to use their name. So, in 1978, we became the Houston Heathen Hearts. (Suzanne Cobarruvias)
The Salt City Slugs, UT (2014)
No real explanation of why the Slugs fit Utah but the Slugs are the oldest established women’s rugby club in the state. The team was founded as the Park City Women’s Rugby Football Club, a social side and sister team to the Park City Muckers. A shout out to the University of California at Santa Cruz, Banana Slugs (1979) as well.
The Washington State University Studmuffins, WA (1982)
When you played for the Studmuffins, you got an “S name” after you played your first match. Mine is “Stiff.” I got my name before I actually played because I answered the door topless when we ordered pizza after practice. The delivery guy was speechless – classic rugby moment. At every drink up, we’d have a Studmuffin roll call, where everyone had to “sound off” with their S name. And it ended with, “Once a Studmuffin, always a Studmuffin.” The team later adopted the Washington State University mascot “Cougars” and any S names after that were purely coincidental. (Matty Leighton)
If you know of a team we should have highlighted or have pictures to share of the teams listed, drop us a note in the comments or email us.