One of the hottest teams heading into this weekend’s national club quarterfinals, the Doylestown Dragons shouldn’t fly under anyone’s radar in Spartanburg, SC for their last eight showdown with Buffalo.
Having advanced all the way to the D2 quarterfinal stage a year ago before falling 27-25 to the Atlanta Renegades, the Dragons have come back even stronger this year.
Doylestown has compiled an undefeated record along the way, and the team is feeling as though this is their year to take the next step. After beating all but one of their games by double digits, they squared off against the Raleigh Vipers for the Mid-Atlantic title, and a trip to the national quarterfinals.
Although the Vipers were on their own impressive run of nine consecutive wins, they were out-matched by Doylestown early and often. Thanks to a physical and organized forward pack that consistently found itself carrying the ball over the gain line, the Doylestown backs feasted on a steady diet of front-foot ball, which paved the way for seven backline tries. Four of those came from man of the match Bruce Dolan.
Supplementing their dangerous attack patterns with a clever tactical kicking game and a strong rush defense, the Dragons effectively suffocated Raleigh en route to a 47-14 victory.
Key to the Dragons’ success over the past two years has been the emergence of fresh faces. The introduction of players like Dave Kornock, Eric French, Matt Frederick, Ron Beverley, and the father-son duo of Kevin and Kevin Reilly in 2017 added much-needed depth and brought a positive energy to the clubhouse.
Pair that with an already strong team and club culture, and it’s no surprise that the Dragons have ascended into the upper echelons of the D2 ranks, even taking down two Mid Atlantic D1 teams along the road in 2018-19 (NOVA and Baltimore-Chesapeake).
Given the depth of this year’s team, along with the wave of momentum the Dragons are riding, it is going to be very difficult to knock them out and doing so will require nothing less than a maximum effort for the full 80 minutes.
“The saying goes 'Saturday is a rugby day,'" said Kornock, who captains the squad. "However we understand that everything that happens on Saturday is earned every other day of the week. So we have developed the unspoken mentality that every day is a rugby day. It’s been a physical and mental push since summer.”
“In the past year the players have picked up their focus and commitment," said coach Mike McCandless. "At this point we have 30 players who are consistently training hard and working as one unified team.”
Established all the way back in 1974 by Jo Stefanon, Tony Stefanon, Mike Tyksinski, Gary Mount, and John Tomlinson, Doylestown RFC has been entrenched in the Pennsylvania rugby community for many years.
Alongside the men’s team that will be gunning for a national championship are also a women’s side and a full boys and girls academy with teams represented at every age group. The impetus of the club to expand recruiting efforts and develop a full-fledged youth system has seen the club grow to over 300 members, and points towards a very bright and prolonged future for Doylestown RFC.
All of the men, women, boys, and girls of the club will be hoping to celebrate a birth in the D2 men’s national championship at the club’s 45th-anniversary reunion next weekend.