The History of Knoxville 7s
Now that 7s Season is underway, take a stroll down memory-lane with an archived post from the ghost of websites past:
From the 1982 world’s fair tournament, to hosting the Tennessee 7s tournament for more than 30 straight years, to consecutive appearances in the open division championship game at Cape Fear in the 1990s, Knoxville has always fared well in the shorter version of rugby.
Brian Niekerk formed the Knoxville Area Rugby Selects (KARS) in the early 1990s, leading to a number of strong tournament showings. The Knoxville Area Rugby Party Selects (KARPS) came into being as well.
FT. Walton Beach
3-1 Consolation Bracket champs
Elvis @ the Opry beat a strong UT team in the cup final.
Southeastern 7s Atlanta
KARS went 5-1 to win open division over Elder White, avenging only loss.
KARS started 2-0, then lost to Elvis @ the Opry 13-10 and 12-10 to Huntsville.
The KARS got off to a perfect start vs. Auburn when Brian Niekerk tapped a short kickoff back to a charging Pat Dorwin, who chipped over the defense, caught his kick and touched down. Dorwin finished with a hat trick in the rout, dropping a fourth try in-goal. The KARS followed with wins over Nashville II, Moosemen and UT to finish third with their only losses coming against the tournament champion (Nashville) and runner-up Birmingham. That did earn the KARS an at-large invitation to the Midwest RFU tourney July 25.
Midwest 7s championship
Cleveland, July 25:
After dropping games to the Cleveland Rovers 12-0 and Pittsburgh Harlequins 12-6, it was two and done for the KARS. The weekend was complete with poker, the worst hotel room ever and an Indians game in which the first 15,000 people through the gates got a complimentary collectible pin – Pat Dorwin was apparently fan no. 15,001.
Queen City 7s
We still seemed locked into the 15s mode, typical of our early-season 7s play. We went 2-2, including a 24-12 loss to Charlotte, who fell in the finals to Kansas State, our other loss. We beat triad 49-0 and stopped Columbia easily as well. Pat Dorwin broke his thumb but played on throughout the season, mostly then for the KARPS.
The rolling casino van got in about 1 a.m. And we started the day slowly, falling 17-14 to Cleveland. We outclassed Bowling Green 26-5 and Kevin Blalock’s late try gave us a 12-10 win over the Cleveland Rovers.
We finished second in our pool and faced the top-seed from the other pool in the semis. The Cleveland Cats jumped out to a 15-7 lead but Mike Dulin picked up his pop kick and scored from 70 meters out, then picked up the ball from behind their scrum and raced in for the winning try. We stopped Kalamazoo 7-0 in the championship to qualify for Milwaukee.
Stones River 7s tournament
KARS lost to Memphis Old #7 in extra time in the semis, then destroyed MTSU for third place. The KARPS had fun, aided by two bare-foot South Africans.
The KARS lost to Roanoke in the semis Sunday to finish 4-1.
The KARS were stopped by Camp Lejeune in the semis of the open division. The KARPS swept through the consolation division for the championship.
Cleveland beat the marines in the open division final while MTSU topped UT in the qualifier division.
Midwest RFU 7s
Knoxville 12 – Steel Valley 12
Knoxville 14 – Quad City 12
Knoxville 12 – Metro 21
Knoxville 7 – Kalamazoo 28
The Possums scored on of their greatest tries ever in Nashville. Off a lineout on the left side of the pitch, flyhalf Pat Dorwin took a long pass on the run and booted long and deep to touch on the opposite side of the field.
Dorwin hustled across the pitch, tossed a long lineout, the ball was worked left, then back right with all Possums having a touch. Dorwin switched with Kevin Blalock and he cut back left to throw a behind the back pass to Steve Cunningham, who dotted down.
The KARS reached their pinnacle with a club-division championship division win over the Philadelphia Mavericks.
After an opening 5-0 loss to Dayton, the Possums reeled off five straight victories, highlighted by Sunday’s semifinal rout over nemesis Louisville.
The Possums opened Sunday’s championship flight by surprising top-seeded East Carolina University as experience won out over youth.
“In the highlight video, you’d often see two or three ECU players lying on the ground as we punched in about six tries,” said Pat Dorwin, that weekend’s scrumhalf.
Louisville was up next.
“They were to our 7s team what Nashville was to our 15s team for many years,” Dorwin said, “but not that day.”
Tom Wilson and Dorwin each scored a pair of tries as Knoxville tallied a 49-14 rout.
“It was the best 7s game I was ever involved with the KARS,” said Dorwin, who combined with Andy Cleary to score 11 of the Possums’ 18 tries on the weekend.
“Tom Wilson drop-kicked conversions on 16 of those scores, so that was obviously a huge factor,” Dorwin said. “We had size in props Brian Niekerk and Steve Roads, savvy with hooker Steve Cunningham and Andy, speed with wing Frank Bennett and myself and a do-it-all player with Tom at center.”
Knoxville stopped Philly 14-10 in the final.
The KARS returned to the club division final the following year, but ran into a strong team in Metro (Minneapolis), falling 26-5 in the championship.
“Metro was led by flyhalf Thor Bolstad, a 7s and 15s Midwest RFU select side player for many years at that position,” said Dorwin.