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FHS Rugby twins, Graham, like to rough it up
Threesome are making splashes at national level

She's a slight-of-build teenager with a soft voice — but she's a clothes-line tackler?

As a Farragut High School Lady Admiral Rugby player, Erin LeGate admitted to “high tackles where I’d clothes-line ’em and I’d get a warning.”

Then Kyna Graham, an FHS junior and rugby teammate, quickly added, “She’s called for that a lot,” which was followed by much laughter by Kyna, Erin and Erin’s twin sister, Brooke, yet another rugby player who likes to mix it up.

Similar to her twin, Brooke LeGate is also slight-of-build and soft-of-voice as a 15-year-old FHS sophomore.

But also similar to Erin, “I like hitting,” Brooke said, “and I love running the ball, too.”

And Kyna? “I just like contact. It’s fun. You get to let out your anger, and it’s O-K,” said Kyna, a prop position player who along with the twins, both centers, are All-Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference honorees with the Lady Admirals.

But when asked about scoring, Graham pointed to the twins and said, “these two right here, they’ve scored a lot of our points.”

Talented enough to be selected for big-time competition, Kyna, 16, and the twins were recently invited to play with the Southside Select Camp Under-19 national level team, competing against a nationwide field during a tournament in Nashville — specifically against teams from the West and Midwest — which included many college freshman players.

“It was hard — they were big, a lot bigger than the high school girls,” Erin said.

Brooke added that as wing players for the southern team — as opposed to their normal position as centers — “It took, like a game, to get situated in how we were supposed to play.”

Moreover, the three are among about 40 of the top 19-and-under rugby players in the United States vying for a spot on the 20-girl U.S. National Team, which will be holding tryouts in at an Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., Jan 4-6.

Scratching an itch for an aggressive contact sport since the tender age of 6 by playing backyard tackle football, Erin said, “I started with my little brother (Zach, now 11), I was six and he was four or three. We started when I ran him over in the golf cart once. ...”

“We used to play tackle football all the time in Florida,” Erin added about the twins playing games, mostly with boys, plus a few girls. “We were twelve and everyone else was like fifteen or sixteen, and we’d play tackle football for like hours ever day after school.

“And then we came to Tennessee and learned about rugby and played rugby.”

Kyna, who said her brother [Chaz] and father [Chip] played backyard football “but they wouldn’t let me play,” added that she started playing rugby “this year.” She first got involved with rugby thanks to her brother’s ex-girlfriend “who suggested it,” while “some of my friends were organizing the team [at FHS] and I said I’d play.”

Is the twins’ mom worried about her daughters getting injured. “Yes, definitely,” said Connie LeGate, who as a “soft tissue” specialist, added the twins “are very flexible, [so] their chance of injury goes down. … And they’ve never had injuries.

“Their heart is in it, and they’re strong.”

Brooke said, “You kinda have to be out-of-control to get hurt, the girls have to be going really fast to hit you and hurt you.”

However, “Usually, if they’re going that fast you can just shake-and-bake, baby,” Brooke added to laughter from the threesome.

Kyna said she’s “jammed some fingers” and got “a little bit of a concussion at the national tournament” but has suffered nothing serious.

As a freshman last spring for head coach Joshua Holt’s Lady Admirals, Brooke was an outside center. “We’re backs, we pretty much run the ball and stuff,” she said.

Erin was an inside center last spring. “Probably the least I scored was once a game,” she said. “Sometimes we’d kill teams, and everybody scored, and me and Brooke would score like four times apiece.”

With a roster hovering around 15 girls, the Farragut Lady Admirals have beaten such teams as South-Doyle and Powell, while the twins added that “Karns is the best.”

With the Farragut rugby season running from March to May, Erin said she may be conflicted due to her desire to play on the FHS varsity softball team, adding she’ll “try” to play both.

Looking ahead, “I don’t know if I want to get my scholarship for softball or rugby,” Erin said. “I would love to play rugby in college, that would be amazing.”

Brooke said she likes basketball more than rugby, “but with rugby I probably have more of a chance getting a scholarship because so many girls want basketball scholarships.”

Without hesitation, Kyna said, “I do plan to play in college, I’ve already been talked to by some college coaches. Pretty good schools. I met them at a camp I went to in Pennsylvania this summer at East Rutherford University. That’s how I met the national team coach for the first time, he was one of the coaches instructing it.”

How are the twins different?

Erin said in reference to herself and Brooke, “I was always the leader, she was the quiet one.”

Mom said, “Temperament-wise, Erin is probably more socialized and kind of fun-loving. Brooke is a little more on the serious side and she’s definitely more intense.

“I think for Brooke, those qualities lead her to, like an extreme determination,” Connie added. “Like nobody is going to stop her, she’s like a locomotive train.

“And for Erin, she keeps her head during games. She’s got the same gustiness, just not quite as intense as Brooke. [Erin] is able to control her intensity a little bit more.”

Those occasional clothes-line hits not withstanding.


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