Would you play rugby in a prom dress?

Saint Joseph Academy (Cleveland, Ohio) hopes to donate $1,000 to the Miles for Smiles Triathlon this spring with funds raised at its annual Prom Dress Rugby Tournament. Courtesy of John Mulgrew

Quick, picture a rugby game. Betcha the last images that come to mind are dresses, makeup and pretty up-dos. But at Saint Joseph Academy’s (Cleveland, Ohio) annual Prom Dress Rugby Tournament, during which girls teams from area high schools compete while wearing -- get this -- prom dresses, style points reign supreme.

“Everyone dresses up ... the fans, the coaches, the girls. It’s hilarious,” says Saint Joseph coach Jaime Barnes-Cleary.

“I definitely hadn’t run or gotten tackled in a dress before, but it was so much fun,” says senior Sarah Reinhold.

In addition to being a blast, the tournament also supports good causes, like cancer research.

So far $1,100 has been donated to various charities the past two years. Each team (approximately 10 total) pays a $25-to-$50 entry fee. Additional fund-raising takes place at the event through raffles and food sales.

“This draws together the whole rugby community and shows off the silly side of our sport,” says Barnes-Cleary.

This May, the team hopes to donate $1,000 to the Miles for Smiles Triathlon, which benefits families and kids, like Barnes-Cleary’s son, who are born with a cleft lip and palate.

Where to Start

Getting other teams to participate is the biggest challenge, so reach out to local schools and clubs early, Sarah says. Ask friends and family for items they could donate to the raffle or sell during the event, and seek volunteers to ref the games and work the booths. Gain crowd support by putting notes in the school’s morning announcements, handing out fliers and contacting your local newspaper, she says. And last, but certainly not least, you have to find the perfect prom dress for the game. Goodwill is a great place to start. “Don’t go for anything too long (you’ll trip!). And remember: The less you like a dress, the better, because it will probably get destroyed,” Sarah says. Hand out awards to the best-dressed team and crown your own prom queen.