A-State Rugby Drops Heartbreaker to Life, 32-15
JONESBORO — Despite a second-half surge on a wet, muddy field, Arkansas State University dropped a 32-15 decision to Life University in college rugby Saturday afternoon at the A-State Rugby Field.
Arkansas State came into the match ranked No. 5 in the latest men’s Division 1 College Rankings by Goff Rugby Report against No. 4-ranked Life out of Marietta, Ga.
“Life beat us in the kicking game,” said Shaun Potgieter, first-year head coach for the Red Wolves. “Also, the field conditions hindered our running game a little. We made errors. They were small, but vital mistakes. Everything on the field matters."
The field had endured a steady rain throughout the week, and the forecast called for more on Saturday. However, both teams got lucky as the rain stopped falling minutes before the match began. But, the playing field was soaked and muddy, limiting both squads at times.
Life got on the board first only four minutes into the game, but 6-4, 240-pound Kirk Pretorius scored on the try a couple of minutes later to bring the Red Wolves to within two, 7-5. Life then added three points to pull ahead, 13-8, and take that slight lead in at the half.
A-State came back in the second half and began a late charge playing tough defense and steady offense. Red Wolf Zinzan Elan-Puttick pushed hard to score on the try, but Life found another scoring opportunity as the clock wound down.
“We started picking things up late and sticking to the game plan,” continued Potgieter. “Life is one of the best defensive teams in the country, and our defense is pretty good as well.”
Potgieter pointed out one significant error by the Red Wolves was when Pretorius was carded by the game official with a yellow card and had to sit out 10 minutes of play. ”That really hurt us,” Potgieter said.
He had praise, though, for the junior from Pretoria, South Africa, as well as game play by 6-4, 207-pound Alex Goff from Brentwood, Tenn.
“Alex had another great game like he did against Davenport,” Potgieter said. “Against Life, he was great in lineouts and was all over the field. He really worked hard.”
The game was the third annual Huckaby Cup, with Life taking home the traveling trophy. The Huckaby Cup is named in honor of A-State rugby coaching legend Curt Huckaby. For 14 years — all on a volunteer basis — Huckaby led the Red Wolves to an overall record of 183-44-1 before stepping down in 2010. The Cup is the brainchild of former head rugby coach and current director of athletics at Life, Don Payne. Payne discussed the idea with Huckaby’s son Matt, who is the executive director of student wellness at A-State, and the idea became a reality.
Arkansas State will travel to Oxford, Miss., Saturday, March 26, to face Ole Miss.