Top-ranked ASU rugby team to host Kutztown April 27 in quarterfinal
JONESBORO, Ark. — The road to a national championship runs through Arkansas State, as the Red Wolves will host Kutztown in a Division 1A quarterfinal matchup Saturday, April 27, at 1 p.m. at the ASU Rugby Field. Admission is free.
ASU is ranked No. 1 nationally by USARugby.org and Kutztown of Pennsylvania is No. 5. It will be the first meeting between the two teams. After winning a national title in collegiate sevens in December 2012, this is ASU’s fourth consecutive quest for the 15s overall championship. The Red Wolves won the Mid-South conference in 2013 and earned the right to host this matchup.
The winner will face either Life University or Army on May 4. The championship match will be May 18 in Greensboro, N.C.
“The guys are very excited about starting the playoffs and even more so having the privilege to start them at home in front of our great fans,” said ASU head coach Alex Houser. “This is the time of season that every great competitor looks forward to, as you must earn the right to continue playing with a victory in each match.
“This naturally increases the pressure and importance of each match, and obviously the quality of opponent is high as well so that adds to it also. So we will find out how we react to the increased pressure this weekend. I feel as though we will thrive on it and take our play to another level, but ultimately we will find out on Saturday.”
Houser noted that ASU will be without the services of hooker-flank Sean Paterson, a junior from Capetown, South Africa; flyhalf-center Sean Linfield, a freshman from Banket, Zimbabwe; and lock-flank Connor Cook, a junior from Waihaloa, Hawaii. Paterson and Linfield have been injured throughout the season. Cook is recuperating from an emergency appendectomy on April 22.
“This is the first meeting between our two programs in 15s so there is an element of the unknown for each team coming into the match,” continued Houser. “What I have observed from Kutztown on film is that they have quite a large forward pack, so we will have to raise our intensity and our physicality, and they also have some skilled and fast backline players so we must be wary of allowing our defense to become fractured and must tighten up our defensive play.”
Kutztown University, a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, was founded in 1866. The club is currently a member of the DI-A East Conference.
“This will be a well played match between two very good rugby programs and will come down to which team is able to play to its strengths more,” concluded Houser.