Written by Joe Harvey
Today, Major League Rugby history will take place as an all-female crew calls the week five clash between Rugby ATL and San Diego Legion.
It will be the first time this has happened in the league’s history, with Brianna Kim and Wendy Young calling the match from the booth, while Tami McQueen will be on the sideline.
All three bring with them a wealth of experience in rugby and media and will bring the game to life in supporters’ homes this weekend as the competition continues to recognize Women’s History Month.
IN THE BOOTH
Brianna Kim will already be a familiar face to some. In recent years, Kim has performed the role of sideline reporter in MLR before turning her expertise to commentary this weekend.
A talented rugby player in her own right, Kim was a four-year starter with Virginia Women’s Rugby and was selected as an All-American in 2014.
After injury brought about a premature finish to her playing days, Kim threw herself into full-time work in the sciences industry, but in 2019, would return to rugby with Old Glory DC.
At first, a co-host of the team’s Road to Glory Podcast, Kim’s understanding of rugby and wish to help grow the game would lead to her being named as the U19 Academy Director and head coach.
Leaving that role after 16 months to pursue further studies at Harvard, Kim has kept a hand in rugby as part of MLR’s on-air broadcast talent and is very much looking forward to taking part in Saturday’s historic event.
“I don’t think you can overemphasize the importance of this,” Kim told MLR. “Unfortunately, in this day and age, there are still extreme forms of gender inequalities, especially in sport.
“My hope is that MLR can continue to lead on this front, by using its platform in the global rugby community to push for more equality and support and promote women’s rugby and women in sport.
“This historic, first-ever all-female team on an MLR broadcast means to me that MLR is eager to take steps forward in accelerating those hopes, that will, in turn, continue to grow the sport we all love.”
Kim describes herself as a rugby obsessive. It is not hard to see why. Routinely setting alarms in the middle of the night to watch games across the world.
But if Kim is a rugby obsessive, then it is difficult to know how to describe her partner in the booth, Wendy Young.
A long-time player, Young has been an Administrator for the Texas Rugby Union, a referee reviewer and coach for USA Rugby, and a National Club Competitions Committee Member.
In addition, for the past 17 years, Young has been at the fore of women’s rugby reporting worldwide as the founder and editor of Your Scrumhalf Connection.
Founded with the intention just to cover domestic women’s rugby in the USA, Young was quickly covering Rugby World Cups, the World Rugby Sevens Series, Six Nations, and European Championships, along with a host of domestic competitions worldwide.
A champion for rugby in the USA, most recently, Young has become a regular commentator for MLR and is the second of the trio making history this weekend.
“This weekend is huge, and it’s an honor to be included in making history,” Young said. “Personally, as someone who has fought for more recognition of women’s rugby in general since 2001, it’s a big step.
“To have an all-woman broadcast team with the amount of rugby knowledge and experience underneath us is phenomenal.
“Rugby is one the only sports where men and women compete with the same pitch size, ball size, field size, and same laws.”
ON THE TOUCHLINE
South Africa-born Tami McQueen will be on the touchline, aiming to convey what is being thought and said by the players and coaches across the 80 minutes.
McQueen has been a mainstay of MLR for much of the past four years. As a result of her upbringing, she describes rugby as being like a religion and has thrown herself into growing the game in North America.
Proactive in becoming involved in professional rugby in the USA after learning of MLR, the former D1 tennis player is as experienced as they come.
An ambassador with the New England Free Jacks, McQueen hosted live streams and podcasts for the team and even contributed to off-field development to help grow the franchise’s brand.
Following a relocation to Atlanta for her work in venture capital as a Vice President of Marketing, McQueen would become Rugby ATL’s match day host and on-air talent for MLR.
“I am so excited about the opportunity to work alongside Wendy and Bri this weekend as two remarkable athletes and female voices,” Tami McQueen said.
“The recommendation by the league to make history with this broadcast time is a true testament to the rugby culture that underlines the values of honor, respect, discipline, sportsmanship, and inclusion.
“Beyond the broadcast, we are fans too, representing a significant part of the fanbase. Hearing different voices and perspectives in rugby helps grow a relatively new audience in the US and broadens opportunities for young girls and women to get involved.
“I imagine soon enough this will be just a regular broadcast day for MLR. I know we’ll have a great chemistry together on Saturday night and hope also to bring in a record-setting audience.”
BACK TO THE STUDIO
This Saturday, Stacy Paetz will, as ever, be in the studio. A mainstay of many MLR matchdays, Paetz has been a host and sideline reporter from the competition’s inaugural season in 2018.
Having wanted to be a host from the age of 15, Paetz’s career has seen her work in the NBA, NFL, MLB, the Olympics and in the highest level of collegiate sport.
Rugby arrived in Paetz’s life thanks to MLR, her admiration of it borne out of the way in which athletes celebrate one another, and she hopes to tell that story for many more years to come.
Very much at the heart of the MLR gameday experience, Paetz believes that this Saturday’s momentous event can help grow rugby and inspire more women to become involved in the game.
“This opportunity for an all-female broadcast team speaks to the mission of continued evolution of Major League Rugby,” Paetz said.
“As we recognize Women’s History Month, it’s intentional to showcase a few of our talented women and the respect they’ve earned within the game of rugby.
“We have loyal female fans, and hearing all female voices on our broadcast is another powerful pathway to engage more women.
The women of this MLR broadcast team have a wealth of rugby experience and represent MLR in a variety of positive ways.
“Wendy Young is new to our play-by-play team this year, and her experience playing, coaching, and officiating gives her unique angles of the game to share with our viewers.
“Bri Kim is a brilliant color commentator with Rugby IQ and presentation, and Tami McQueen adds valuable insight and stories from the sidelines.
“At the heart of it, that’s what Saturday is about. All three of the on-air voices have built professional relationships through their years in and around rugby, and that serves them as they call a game together for the first time.
“I’m excited for this moment. I’m grateful to MLR and decision-makers for this opportunity. I’m honored to be part of this league.”