National champ Arkansas State rugby team takes on Texas A&M Feb. 2 in preseason matchup
JONESBORO, Ark. — If this weekend is any indication of how Arkansas State University’s national champion rugby squad played the last time it was in College Station, Texas, the Red Wolves should be fine.
ASU, ranked second in the nation by Rugbymag.com, is playing Texas A&M in a preseason matchup Saturday, Feb. 2, at Penberthy Recreation Sports Complex. Action gets underway at 1 p.m.
The last time Arkansas State played in that facility on Dec. 1, 2012, the Red Wolves claimed the College 7s national title over Life University.
“Texas A&M will be a good test for us,” said ASU head coach Alex Houser. “It gives us a chance to see where we are as a team. We have a lot of players from Texas so they are anxious to get started.”
The Aggies were listed in the Top 25, but dropped out of the rankings after losing to LSU, 31-19, in their season opener Jan. 26. Four key players were missing from the A&M lineup, including Chris Frazier, Andrew Stanley, Matt Theodore and Jan Young.
Houser pointed out that even though his team has encountered some weather issues during January, the Red Wolves have had about six or seven practices and the players are impatient to get back on the field. But, he warns the players to learn patience as well.
The ASU program is at a high point in its brief existence, but has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence. At least eight All-America players have come from the program along with numerous honorable mention selections. Houser believes his 2013 team is as strong as ever.
“Team co-captain Shaun Potgieter has really embraced the leadership role on this team,” continued Houser. “He’s pretty introverted, but actions speak louder than words.” Potgieter, a 6-2, 215-pound senior from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, is a member of the 2012 Collegiate All-America Fifteens Touring Team that traveled to Ireland last summer.
Houser also noted that he and the team would be depending upon Pat Sullivan as a player/coach. Sullivan is two-time All-America selection and serves as co-captain of the team. He is an experienced player and has the mind of a leader who puts weight behind his words.
The new coach also praised the efforts of junior flyhalf Zinzan Elan-Puttick, a 6-0, 180-pounder from Bloemfontein, South Africa. Elan-Puttick, along with Potgieter, was a member of the All-Tournament Team in the College 7s championship.