Rugby player braves broken bone to help team clinch championship

Natalie Oelsner, president of the women’s rugby team, runs down the pitch with the ball to attempt a try. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

In her first season with the women’s rugby team in 2013, Chico State junior Selena Miranda cracked her fibula in the middle of a rugby match against UC Berkeley and still played the rest of the game.

“Every time I play (rugby), I lay my body out on the line for my team,” Miranda said.”And if that means playing with a broken leg or anything else, I will.”

The following day, the Wildcats went on to win the Stanford Invitational Tournament with Miranda completely snapping her fibula in the final game against UCLA.

She finished the game and walked off the field a champion.

The fibula is one of the two bones in between the knee and ankle.

“I went to go push someone out of bounds, and when I pushed her she held on to me and landed on my leg,” Miranda said. “When I got up, I knew something wasn’t right, but I kept playing because there wasn’t much time left.”

Selena Miranda’s broken fibula suffered during the 2013 Stanford Invitational Women’s Rugby Tournament against UCLA. Photo courtesy of Selena Miranda.

After the match against UC Berkeley, the Wildcats had to play two more games for a shot at a first-place finish in the tournament. Miranda was in a lot of pain and sat the first of the two games out.

But with the championship on the line for the Wildcats, Miranda taped up her partially broken fibula and stretched out to prepare for the game.

She played the entire match until disaster struck in the final five minutes of the championship game against UCLA.

During a twisted tackle with five minutes remaining, Miranda’s fibula completely snapped as she tackled a UCLA Bruin ball carrier to the ground. The Wildcats rallied around Miranda and told her they needed her for the rest of the game as she cried on the field, she said.

The senior captain of the team and outside center Natalie Oelsner, was the first one to go to Miranda after the injury.

Rugby players’ toughness is shown when they refuse to get off the field unless they are literally dying or dead on the field, Oelsner said.

“The one thing I remember is saying ‘Come on, you gotta keep playing. I know it hurts — keep going.'” Oelsner said. “With tears running down her face, she went to the next break down and did it.”

The Wildcats rallied to beat UCLA in a close game with Miranda on the field to win the Stanford Invitational.

“In rugby you have to have a different mentality,” Miranda said, “and that mentality is to win and to do anything at all cost.”

After the ‘Cats won the Stanford Invitational, Miranda went through rigorous double-day workouts with the team on the completely snapped fibula for a week and a half without realizing how seriously injured she was.

Miranda had a full recovery and is now one of the veterans on a relatively young team.

Three-year teammate and junior prop Kaylee Bohn was on the field with Miranda as the Wildcats pushed their way to the championship victory.

Bohn was one of her teammates that rallied Miranda back to her feet and said she is one of those players that rugby is all about.

The Wildcats placed fifth in the Stanford Invitational this year and are coming together as a team, Bohn said.

“When I think of a rugby player or how to become a woman on and off the field when we play this sport,” Oelsner said, “she is the epitome of that because she has truly become that.”

Lars Gustafson can be reached at [email protected] or @larsonsports on Twitter.