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Red Wolf Rugby Dominates Memphis, 109-0


JONESBORO – Arkansas State University scored on 17 tries and converted 12 to help the Red Wolves soundly defeat the University of Memphis, 109-0, Saturday afternoon at Curt Huckaby Field on the A-State campus. The season opener gives the fifth-ranked team a 1-0 start in fall 15s play.

Ruan Knuppel vs. Memphis.jpg
Ruan Knuppel takes off with the ball against Memphis at Saturday's rugby game. — Photo courtesy of Rich Carvell.

“It was a good day on both sides of the ball,” said first-year head coach Blake White. “Both the offense and defense played well and got better as the day went on. I was really pleased with the way the guys stayed focused.”

Five minutes into the game, newcomer Patrick Meagher of Brisbane, Australia, scored under the posts, with the conversion coming from returnee Andrew Pretorius to put the Red Wolves up early, 7-0. Following the ensuing kickoff, Ruan Knuppel of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, controlled the ball and scored the 60-meter try, with Pretorius’ conversion good, to add to A-State’s lead, 14-0.

A-State kept the offensive pounding going with a try from the corner by newcomer Tino Msasanure from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, just 12 minutes into the opening half. Pretorius, of Roswell, Ga., adds another conversion to give the Red Wolves the 21-0 cushion.

The first period continued with Arkansas State’s strength and speed to add successful tries by Liam Jagow of Westfield, Ind.; Pretorius (with his own conversion); Dylan Boast of Los Angeles, Calif., off the Memphis turnover; Noe Pena of Houston, Texas, from the corner; Cole Robinson of Keller, Texas, in the corner; and a second from Knuppel. With the conversion by Pretorius, the Red Wolves took a 59-0 lead at the half.

Due to the number of injuries sustained during the preseason, White sent in a strong group of freshmen in for the second half to gain experience.

“Our freshmen did a great job,” said White. “We had 10 freshmen who played. We have worked on several things these last couple of weeks and stuck to them even with the score running up a bit. I'm very happy with their effort and execution.”

After Knuppel and Pretorius teamed up for another try and conversion in the beginning of the second period to make the score, 66-0, Pena scored his second try with Christian Schulz of Dallas, Tex., converting. The score was 73-0.

Final scoring included successful tries from Nicklaus Aumann of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., (Schulz conversion); Msasanure; Sam Ross of Parker, Colo.; Brandon Rokela of Naples, Fla.; and Ross on a Memphis kick return (converted own). Isaiah Poku of Daytona Beach, Fla., scored on a tipped pass from Asa Carter of Tulsa, Okla. Carter’s conversion closed out the day.

“The guys made it easy for me,” said White after his first victory as a head coach. “We worked on several things and stuck on the things we had worked on. I’m very happy with their effort and execution.”

Arkansas State hosts an Alumni Weekend, Saturday, Oct. 7, at Curt Huckaby Field, 501 Red Wolf Trail. Play gets underway at 1 p.m. Admission is free.