Local rugby players go national
It's hard hitting. It's aggressive. And its players take it very seriously.
Welcome to the rowdy world of rugby, a fast-paced, energetic player-on-player sports phenomenon where Boone is more than just a spot on the map.
It's the home of AHO Rugby, an Appalachian State University squad making a name for itself locally and in the nation, and two of its players leave this week to take it to the road on a national scale.
Meet John-David Dorsey. He and fellow phenom Drew Zabor have been selected for the USA Mens' Seven South. It's a national training camp that culminates in a tournament pitting four regions of the country against each other in fierce 7 on 7-style rugby. Participating players have been selected from places like Louisiana State University, East Carolina University and, of course, ASU.
"We do our fitness test and such and then we head to New York at the end of August to play a tournament," Dorsey said.
It's a big deal, especially when you consider ASU's size and the fact that it hasn't had a coach in years.
"We're player coached," he said.
You wouldn't know it from the sidelines. Last year, AHO Rugby made the Elite 8 in division 2 rugby and had several players, Dorsey and Zabor included, make the North Carolina select team.
Just this past weekend, the men (Dorsey, Zabor, Cory Jones, Seth Saunders, Alex MacRae, Ryan Murphy, Matt Markofski, Michael Markofski and Daniel Kelly) won a tournament against 15 other teams at Belle Chere in Asheville.
"We played five games and won every game, beating N.C. State in the finals," Dorsey said.
While the summer league brings out small scale 7 on 7, regular season has AHO hitting the field in full games, competing against places like Clemson and Alabama.
"For the most part, we win most of those games," Dorsey said.
And it's not just hot air. Visit their website ( http://www.ahorugby.net) and you'll find the team took the Southern Conference Championship for 2010 and was named a N.C. All-Star Team. For the past two years, it's taken home first at its own tournament, Rucktoberfest, held annually each October.
The quality of the team does more than just give its website bragging rights. It's a draw to Appalachian and Boone, itself. Take Dorsey. After playing rugby in high school, he knew exactly where he wanted to go to school.
"That is the only reason I came to ASU. I am not a cold weather person," the senior public relations major said.
He plays scrum half during the summer leagues.
"During the summer sevens ... there are seven on each team," he said. "Usually, two or three bigger guys for the scrum, which battles for possession. The rest are usually more fast, agile players who get the ball."
Dorsey and Zabor leave Thursday for training camp. The National Tournament is Aug. 28.