Krista McFarren: An American Legend of the 1991 Rugby World Cup

We’re excited to continue our series, “Pioneers of the Pitch,” where we celebrate the groundbreaking athletes, administrators, coaches, referees, and fans making their mark on rugby in the USA. Each installment takes you on a journey through the inspiring stories of rising stars and seasoned legends, both on and off the field. Whether honoring their contributions during their lifetime or posthumously, we shine a light on these exceptional individuals and uncover their tales of dedication, passion, and triumph.

In the world of sports, there are stories that inspire, stories that motivate, and stories that simply leave you in awe. The journey of Krista McFarren, fondly known as KB, Kudzu, or Kboo, falls into all these categories. Born in Washington DC, Krista’s love affair with sports began at a young age, and it took her on an extraordinary path to becoming a world champion in rugby. In this feature article, we dive into Krista’s early experiences in sports, her influences, challenges she conquered, and her vision for the future of rugby.

Krista’s journey into sports started as far back as she can remember when she played hotbox and touch football with the neighborhood kids. However, her passion truly ignited in high school and junior high, where she took on sports like Field Hockey, Basketball, and Track. In college, her eclectic taste in sports led her to Field Hockey, Softball, and even Badminton. But it was rugby that stole her heart after college, becoming her favorite sport.

Throughout her athletic journey, Krista had significant figures who played vital roles in nurturing her passion for sports. Her father, who traveled frequently but always made time to play sports with her, was like the biggest kid in their neighborhood games. High school and college coaches and the pioneer women of USA rugby taught her invaluable lessons about the game, including how to avoid the “hard knocks” of rugby.

Krista’s dedication to her sport didn’t deter her from her other life responsibilities. She learned to balance her athletic pursuits with work, family, and even med school while serving in the Air Force. Her daughter even became her personal fitness motivator, encouraging her to work out when stress took over.

As with any athlete’s journey, Krista faced her share of challenges, including injuries and the demands of med school and military service. Her ability to focus on what she could control and let go of what she couldn’t allowed her to overcome these obstacles and achieve remarkable success in rugby.

One of Krista’s most cherished memories was winning the 1991 Rugby World Cup, an experience that coincided with her 30th birthday. It was a fantastic birthday present that she will forever cherish.

Krista believes that rugby in the USA is at a pivotal moment, requiring unified changes and infrastructure development to keep pace with the rest of the world. She remains committed to being a bridge in the rugby community, mentoring and coaching where she can to make those around her better.

For Krista, there’s no “after” sport; there’s just a different sport. Currently, it’s Pickleball, but she’s always eager to try new things and take her body on new adventures.

Krista’s advice to young athletes starting out in rugby is simple: appreciate the people you practice and play with, as they become your lifelong chosen family.

Krista McFarren’s journey from Washington DC to becoming a rugby world champion is a testament to her unwavering passion, dedication, and resilience. Her story serves as an inspiration to aspiring athletes and a reminder that with hard work and the right mindset, any dream can become a reality. As she continues to be a mentor and advocate for the sport she loves, Krista’s impact on rugby’s future is sure to be profound.

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