Patty Jervey’s rugby career began in 1982, at the age of 18. Convinced by Laura Jarrell, a high school mate, to give it a try, she began playing with the University of South Carolina. Following her graduation from SC she helped initiate the inaugural season of the Atlanta Harlequins.
She was then recruited to Florida State, at the time one of the top two women’s clubs in the country, to join top US Eagles Kathy Flores and Candi Orsini. She learned what was needed to become an Eagle and got her first cap in 1989. She finished with 40, a number not surpassed until Jamie Burke did it two years ago.
Patty and several of her FSU teammates – Kathy, Candi, Colleen Fahey, Val Sullivan and Claire Godwin - played in the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup, won by the USA, in 1991. Despite the fact that she was already 27 at the time of that first World Cup, she went on to play in the 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 Women’s World Cups, the last one at age 42. The US made two finals and two 5th place finishes in that time period. She was the first player to play in five Women’s Rugby World Cups; New Zealand’s legendary Anna Richards equaled that record in 2010. Only one man - Brian Lima- has played in 5 World Cups. But Patty did it first. In her international career she scored 38 tries, and still holds the international points record for the US Women’s National Team with 178 points.
Patty was also one of the keys in the successes of the Eastern Rugby Union in the Women’s ITTs during the six years she played for them (1989-1994), during which they won four national All-Star championships. In 1990 the ERU defeated the USA in a domestic competition. Patty feels that these ERU appearances were great preparation for international competitions.
In 1996 Patty played for Atlantis at the Hong Kong Women's Club Sevens, an event that was responsible for the initiation of the Hong Kong International Women's Sevens. The Hong Kong International Women’s tournament was in turn credited with facilitating the admission of rugby into the Olympics.
While all this was going on, Patty returned to the club she started with, the Atlanta Harlequins, where she led them to a national championship in 2012 at age 48 and a 4th place in the Women’s Premier League at 50, in 2014.
In 2014 Patty was part of the first class of women to be selected to the IRB/World Rugby Hall of Fame. She is the only individual American – male or female – to have ever been so honored.
At age 51, she continues to play, coach and mentor the Harlequins. She is, according to teammate Rosalind Chou, “the glue that holds the club together and each new generation of women’s rugby players that comes into contact with her becomes inspired with her passion for the sport.”
Patty has no doubt that she was meant to play this game; “being on the pitch,” she says, “and having the ball in my hand, makes my soul sing.” Among the people she thanks for her great rugby career are “my better half, Heather Hale, my Jervey and Hale family for their support, my Harlequin teammates for keeping the fire burning, the opposition for making me rise up, and all the coaches for the challenges and opportunities. What a ride!"