200 Days in the Life of the College

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Saturday, April 30

Dressed to kill — or at least to biff, bust and scrum

By Leigh Ercole ’11

“This is serious,” the fans mutter.

“Crouch, touch, pause, engage,” the ref says.

The game begins, but this is no standard athletic event. It is the fifth annual Prom Dress Rugby Scrimmage. “Traditionally, both teams wear ‘prom’ dresses, typically old dresses found at Salvation Army — the more over-the-top, the better,” Allegra Penny ’11 explains.

The opponent, mighty Syracuse University, sports mostly short ergonomic dresses, perhaps in hopes of gaining an edge. Hamilton, however, is decked out in full prom regalia, which is, as Katie Hoar ’11 explains, “a lot harder than it looks.” But, she adds, “There’s nothing more satisfying than the rip of satin on the rugby pitch.”

While some wear traditional, sleek dresses, others show off poofy, sequined ballgowns. Jeannie Folan ’12 parades a low-backed wedding dress with a pink sports bra peeking out and a train that is falling off. “Prom dress rugby allows us to let loose and play a totally ridiculous, outrageously fun game,” she says. “It’s hard to get super nervous or anxious while you’re wearing a crazy prom dress and cleats.”

Adds Sophie Boehm ’11, “On every last Saturday of April, I pull out my old silver disco ball dress and march out onto the pitch to partake in the most fashionable game of the year. Because we are rugby players, dresses are destroyed, arms are stepped on, and most walk away with bruises.”

Teammates, cheering on the sidelines, wear rainbow-colored sunglasses while waiting for turns to play. Coach Amanda Benoit is prepared for prom in a blue prairie dress. Even her dog, Rugger, is at the ready in a tuxedo shirt. Syracuse ultimately wins 7-5, but “it’s a great way to end the spring season,” Erin Sullivan ’13 says. “Playing rugby in a prom dress is about as much fun as it looks. Everyone should try it.”