The Ariel Re High School League All-Star games take place at the North Field today, where Alex Doyling will no doubt showcase his tryscoring prowess again.
The 17-year-old has been a points machine for the Warwick Academy/Bermuda Institute side this season, and is set to play a big part for the Bermuda All-Stars college team at the Ariel Re Sevens next month.
Doyling played for the Bermuda sevens team at the Rugby Americas North tournament in Mexico City last November and hopes the Ariel Re Sevens will give him an opportunity to attract some of the American college sides who will be coming over for the tournament on March 16 and 17.
“[Mexico City] was a very unique experience; probably the highest quality of rugby I’ve ever played,” Doyling said. “Even though I didn’t get as much time as I probably wanted to, it was a very nice experience. And seeing the other players from other countries playing a higher level of rugby, playing against them was very enjoyable. And the cultural environment was Mexico was very nice as well.”
Doyling’s love for American football helped him get into the sport and even though he likes scoring tries, he is not afraid of the physical side of the game and the lack of pads does not concern him either.
“My dad was at my school one day and he saw a poster on a door, and I was very interested in American football, so my dad said: ‘Do you want to try this?’ I was like, ‘sure’,” Doyling said of his introduction to the sport.
“Then I went down to Saltus for Sunday rugby and it’s pretty nice.
“It’s pretty similar to American football, and I like it a lot and experienced many different things and have been on different trips to different places.
“When I started to play I noticed the pads weren’t really needed as much and I wasn’t as afraid to get hit, and I kind of like to hit other people, so the pads didn’t really matter either way.
“My ball-handling skills are pretty good and as I’m small I can move around a lot and get through little nooks and crannies.
“Scoring a try is the best feeling, especially if it’s super-close and it’s the game-winning try, it’s the best feeling ever. And it’s more monumental than a big hit. It doesn’t matter as much as a try.
“My ambitions in rugby are to reach the Hong Kong Sevens or World Cup, with Bermuda or any other team. I want to be a mechanical engineer or major in computer science, while playing rugby in college.”
The Ariel Re Sevens will feature several American university teams, including traditional gridiron powerhouses Ohio State and Notre Dame, and Bermuda Rugby youth development officer Patrick Calow says it is a great opportunity for Doyling and his team-mates to feature their skills.
“[It’s a] great opportunity not just for Alex, but for others to play,” Calow said. “With the colleges that are here, you can interact.
“Alex is not only a great athlete, but also a great student, which has been a barrier sometimes to some of our guys transitioning straight from school to university.
“I know that the Ariel Re Sevens is not the solution, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. They can see him, and he’s going to be playing in the college team, not the high-school team, this year, if selected of course! If he goes to training and continues with the form he’s in it would be pretty hard to leave him out of the college team.
“I don’t want to embarrass him, but one of the things about Alex is that he’s a real humble young man, but whenever he gets on the field, he becomes a different person and in sport, that’s a really important thing. He’s probably one of our best athletes.
“I know there’s times where he’s been doing a track meet then he comes down and plays the second half of rugby, and you ask him how he got on and he says: ‘Yeah, I won’. You kind of think, that doesn’t happen with many other people! So he’s a tremendous rugby player and a tremendous athlete, but more importantly, he’s also a brilliant person. I see really good things in his future, if he keeps working hard and puts himself in good positions, I think he’s destined for good things.
And Doyling is ready for the challenge and the next step of his rugby career.
“When people don’t do things right, I get pretty angry, especially when playing rugby, but then when we’re off the pitch or at half-time I’ll speak a little more kindly towards them,” he said. “But yeah, when I get on the pitch it’s all business, no playing around.”
The BSSF Primary School Flag tournament takes place from 10.30am to 3.30pm at the North Field today, followed by the Ariel Re High School Games. The girls’ game kicks off at 4.30pm, with the boys playing at 5pm.