By Jane Nicholson
BOONE—Until two years ago, Lyndsie White had never touched a rugby ball. That all changed when the senior industrial design major at Appalachian State University discovered the sport of women’s rugby and joined the AHO Women’s Rugby team, a club sport at the university.
She will play on the AIG Women’s Collegiate All-Americans team in a match against the Twin Cities Amazons women’s rugby club Aug. 25 in Minnesota.
White was a member of the rugby team at Appalachian that progressed to the top 16 in the Collegiate Division II National Championship in 2012. This year, the team posted a 20-1 record and advanced to the Elite Eight in the national championship.
“I’m pretty excited,” White said about the upcoming rugby match. She was one of 40 players from eastern and western regional rugby camps selected for the AIG Women’s Collegiate All-Americans team.
White is the only player from North Carolina named to the team, competing from athletes from colleges such as Boston College, Florida State University and the University of California-Berkeley. Many of students play at the varsity sport level.
Why rugby? “It looked like fun,” the former Mountaineer pole-vaulter said. “A friend invited me to play, the team was very welcoming, and I wanted to do something physical.”
Women’s rugby is played identical to the men’s sport. Each team has 15 players. Matches are 80 minutes long, divided into two, 40-minute halves. Players advance the oval ball by carrying or kicking it. Home matches are played at Appalachian’s intramural fields off State Farm Road. League competitors include East Carolina University, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte and the College of Charleston. Last spring Appalachian’s team was ranked 4th in the nation.
“Lyndsie took to the game immediately, and I think the support of her teammates like Bonnie Nguyen and Stephanie Smith helped her in learning the intricacies of the game,” said Ken Muir, who coaches the team. Muir is a professor of sociology at Appalachian and a nationally certified rugby referee.
“Lyndsie is an absolutely fearless player,” Muir said. “I have seen her tackle players who out-weigh her by 40 pounds and run down and tackle opposing ball carriers who otherwise would have easily scored a try against the ASU team. She never ceases to amaze me and her teammates with her talent and her absolute love for the game.”
White will learn following the match in Minnesota if she will be invited to compete with the AIG Women’s Collegiate All-Americans team in France this fall.
“I’ve been coach of the ASU team since its inception 16 years ago, and Lyndsie is one of the best players I have ever had the privilege to coach,” Muir said.
White credits her and the team’s success in part to Muir’s guidance. “He really takes care of us and we have an inviting team whose members love teaching anyone the sport,” she said.