Rugby Falls to California to End Championship Search
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Despite a hard fight to keep in the running for a championship, Arkansas State University’s rugby squad fell to three-time defending champ California, 24-14, in the quarterfinals Sunday morning at the Penn Mutual 7s Collegiate Championship.
"It was not the result we wanted, but I am proud of the team’s effort in this tournament,“ said A-State Head Coach Shaun Potgieter. "We made a few vital errors in that last game and it cost us.“
The Red Wolves jumped to a quick 14-0 lead behind tries by Sione Fangaiuiha, scoring under the goal posts, and Connor Cook, who found the corner. But, as the horn signaled halftime, Cal’s Anthony Salaber was able to score, followed by a try by Salaber’s teammate Jesse Milne. Two conversions brought the score to a 14-14 tie at the half.
Both teams were back and forth early in the final period until the Golden Bears gained a five-point advantage when Russell Webb took the ball out of a scrum and raced to make the score, 19-14. Arkansas State countered with strong plays, but an errant pass went to a Cal defender late and Fawzi Kawash was able to secure the win for Cal.
A-State earned the right to play California again in the quarterfinals after dropping a 24-12 decision to the Bears Saturday in pool play. The Red Wolves had already posted wins over Maryland (24-0) and Tennessee (40-0) earlier.
"This tournament was a great experience for the team,“ added Pogieter. "Thanks to NBC, Rhino Rugby and Penn Mutual for showcasing the best collegiate rugby tournament n the country. We are looking forward to next year.“