AHO Rugby ranked No. 1
It's hard hitting and high ranking: AHO Rugby, and it's a force to contend with. Just ask Rugby Magazine, which just ranked AHO as a No. 1 threat.
"It's a big deal," AHO president Randy Akerman said. "It's the highest we've ever ranked."
Last year's rankings put the ASU squad at No. 6. With the No. 1 rank comes prestige, but there's also added pressure "to live up to the expectations that people in the rugby community have put on us," Akerman said.
After losing six starters after May graduation, the Appalachian State University club team is looking toward a new crop. An appearance Monday at ASU's Club Expo bodes well for the future of AHO Rugby.
"We had 50 potential kids come out," he said.
And he expects at least half to stick with it. After all, rugby's addictive. The math secondary education major caught the bug himself at Club Expo three years ago.
"I was just walking around," he said. "I didn't have any plans to play rugby ... I signed up at the table, and the first week I was hooked."
And he's been busting through the competition ever since.
This year brings its own challenges, however, challenges complicated by the addition of a rookie class.
"Most of these guys, possibly 70 percent of the rookie classes we get have never played before," he said.
But AHO's determination will see them through. "Getting guys caught up isn't that hard, but it takes a little time," Akerman said.
And the member coached team (no coach) lost its practice organizer to graduation, so a new voice is calling drills. That and a new conference mean a few changes in store for 2010-11 AHO.
"We're trying to schedule really hard non-conference games to get that high caliber ruby level we're used to," he said.
This year, for the first time, they won't be playing conference games with the likes of N.C. State and Carolina. There's a new ACC league for that, matching ASU with smaller schools like Elon and UNC-Pembroke. East Carolina will still be a conference opponent, but no more Clemson.
There are still plenty of ways to mash heads with the ACC league, though. One of the biggest ways? Right here in the High Country in October.
AHO has already started prepping for Rucktoberfest.
"It's our biggest, it's really our only fundraiser right now," Akerman said.
Expect 20 teams from around the nation ("It's one of the biggest tournaments in the southeast," he said) battling it out in tough competition, both male and female teams.
"It's going to be huge," he said, and it's free to spectators.
It happens Oct. 2 and 3 at Appalachian's State Farm Field.
"We're trying different things to get not only the students out, but we'd love for the community of Boone to come out and see what we're doing," he said.
For more information on AHO Rugby, the 2010 Southern Conference champs, check out http://www.ahorugby.net.