From an outsider’s perspective, club rugby may be synonymous with hard partying and even harder hits, but for the Appalachian State men’s rugby team, the sport is something much bigger.
With a perfect record of 5-0 and the playoffs in sight the men’s rugby team is here to show that they mean business.
Part of that success, sophomore Cameron Hunt said, stems from the brotherhood of the team and a history of winning.
“We have a long tradition of winning and we have a huge alumni association,” Hunt said. “They’re always out supporting us and the last thing we want to do is let those guys down.”
Tradition is important to the team, which still maintains the name of AHO, after Aho road in Boone where the club was first started.
Founded in 1976, the men’s club was not even recognized by the university. However, with a growing fanbase and history of success, the team has become a force to be reckoned with in the south.
Victories this season include a 12-7 win over fellow Southern Rugby Conference member Eastern Carolina University at the 15th annual Rucktoberfest tournament and a 58-0 rout of Lander University on Sept. 21.
Before the team can make history this year though, they must face long-time rival Furman University.
“They are our big, tough match this year,” secretary Daniel VanDriesen said. “If we win that game, which we should, then we’ll be sitting pretty for playoffs and hopefully get home field advantage.”
While the team maintains a high level of athleticism and performance, newcomers and the curious alike are welcome to give the sport a shot.
“Last year, being a rookie, the older guys were more than willing to help out,” Hunt said. “Half the guys on the team have never played rugby before but you come in and you’re one of us.”
That sense of unity is what makes the team so appealing, according to sophomore Ian McNeill.
“It’s a real close friendship, everyone hangs out together,” McNeill said. “Everybody is real close, there’s a lot of networking involved, it’s like a real big social group, a brotherhood.”
That balance of fun, camaraderie and seriousness is what makes the team the success that they are: a blend of performance both on and off the field, Hunt said.
“Yea it’s fun, we do our thing, but we win,” Hunt said “That’s how AHO does it, we win.”
The rugby team will face off against Furman on Oct. 26 in Greenville at 1 p.m.Story: CHRIS DEVERELL, Intern Sports Reporter