Jervey’s career in focus for International Women’s Day

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, and the focus turns to Atlanta for the upcoming Women’s Sevens World Series, USA Rugby is highlighting the career of one of the countries most capped women’s rugby player and World Rugby’s recent inductee into the Hall of Fame.

International Women’s Day is a holiday celebrating the achievements of women past, present, and future. This year’s theme of “Make It Happen” is perfect for the state of women’s rugby and a good summation of the career of a woman who has made a huge impact on the sport, specifically in the southeast region.

Former Women’s Eagle and current Atlanta Harlequin Patty Jervey was elected to the World Rugby Hall of Fame last fall, not long after her club came within one match of the Women’s Premier League Final. Jervey was the first individual American in World Rugby’s Hall of Fame and part of the first class of women inducted. 

It has been a long time coming – more than half of Jervey’s life has been spent in the game of rugby.

One of Jervey’s classmates at Westminster High School attended the University of Georgia and traveled to Columbia, S.C., for a rugby match while the Hall of Famer was attending the University of South Carolina. The undergraduate watched her friend’s match and was “hooked.” Jervey saw each of the Gamecocks’ remaining matches and took to the pitch the following season.

Jervey transferred to Florida State University not long into her collegiate career, where she linked up with eventual Eagles coach Kathy Flores. She received her first international call-up in 1989.

Two years after her first international cap, Jervey hoisted the Women’s Rugby World Cup – the first awarded – in Wales. She went on to represent the U.S. in four additional World Cups and has two runners-up medals to show for it. Though her record still stands, Jervey was not interested in the personal glory one can find on a rugby pitch.

“Patty has always had a team-first approach,” USA Rugby Associate Collegiate Director and Eagles ‘91 teammate Tam Breckenridge said. “It was never about her, and she never pushed to be the focus of any team. I imagine this quality allowed her to quickly fit in and connect with the subsequent World Cup teams. 

Across her five World Cup appearances, Jervey amassed a record 178 points and 40 caps for the United States. Jamie Burke only recently broke her record for most caps in a Women’s Eagles jersey in 2013 at Nations Cup in Greeley, Colo.

Even though she does no longer dons the red, white, and blue, Jervey is still helping to build the women’s game in America and elsewhere. She has coached the USA Rugby South Women’s All-Stars for a period and been at the helm of the Atlanta Harlequins.

A pacey impact center and wing for her country, Jervey switched to forwards roles with the Harlequins in recent years, playing flanker and No. 8. In 2012 she helped the team win a Division I National Championship, and the club was one match away from winning the Women’s Premier League title in 2014.

At 50, it does not seem as though anything can slow down the Hall of Famer, and her current and former teammates can understand why.

“Patty was an ideal teammate,” fellow ’91 Women’s Eagle Annie Flavin said. “On field, a fiercely competitive worker bee. Just knowing she was in the back line was always so reassuring, especially for a plodding tight-fiver.

“Off the field, Patty was funny, silly, yet wise. I recall being heartbroken and crushed after losing to England in 1994, but with a few considerate words Patty made me feel a little less devastated.”

“When Patty Jervey and I were on the field together, I always felt a little better if we were wearing the same jersey,” Mary Dixey  said. “I am among the many honored and lucky to have shared the pitch with her. Hat’s off to a spectacular athlete, a true ambassador of the game, and an all-around great human being.”

USA Rugby is proud to announce a recognition ceremony honoring Jervey in her hometown for her accomplishments on the pitch and beyond. In honor of her achievements, and in celebration of International Women’s Day, Patty will be recognized on the field at Atlanta 7s, the third leg of the 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, on March 14th at 5:00pm. Patty’s teammates, players, and anyone wishing to honor this momentous occasion are invited to attend as part of the tournament festivities. 

More information on the tournament can be found here: www.usarugby.org/Atlanta7s.