Pappas climbs rugby ladder

2005 Steamboat grad, now CSU junior, makes regional all-star team

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— Charlie Pappas doesn't know whether it's better to be lucky or good.

But for the 2005 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, being both certainly has helped him in his rugby career.

In only his fourth season playing competitive rugby, Pappas - a junior at Colorado State University - made the Western United States All-Star rugby team. He'll travel to Fort Collins on Tuesday to compete in a two-week camp before playing in the National Collegiate All-Star Championships. His selection to the team came after Pappas dominated the collegiate Division I rugby season for the Rams.

"Most guys I play with started in high school," Pappas said. "I got really lucky to train with the guys in Steamboat. In three years, I've learned what a lot of guys have in seven or eight."

His development also has come with some hard work. Pappas has been training for two hours a day, seven days a week, for the past two months in preparation for the camp. This includes playing rugby as much as he can, working out on his own and doing Manic Training with Steamboat Rugby coach Graham Muir.

All those ingredients have put Pappas in line to potentially become an All-American. At the camp Tuesday, Pappas will be battling for the open side flanker starting position. Although there are an All-American and an honorable mention All-American also battling for the position, Pappas said he's confident he'll get the nod.

The camp runs for three days before the team will play a warm-up game June 6 in Glendale against the Denver Barbarians, a Super League team. The team will then practice for three more days before opening the All-Star Championships June 12 against the Mid-Atlantic All-Stars.

The Western team enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed. If they win, they'll play the winner of the Pacific All-Stars and Southern California All-Stars.

In addition to earning a starting spot, Pappas said he'd like to earn the tag as an All-American. The top 15 players from the national tournament are selected as All-Americans and have the opportunity to play against the U.S. Select Side, Canadian National Team and spend two weeks playing in Europe.

A lot of times, All-Americans will sign a pro contract or get invited to try out for the U.S. Select Side or U.S. National Team.

"I personally feel my chances are very likely of getting a starting position," Pappas said. "As far as the All-American team, it comes down to my performance and my play at that tournament. I've done all the athletic fitness testing. It just comes down to my play. I feel I have just as good a chance as anybody. I have my work cut out for me, but I'm up for the challenge."

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