A-State Does Not Renew Rugby CoachлЊs Contract
JONESBORO —Arkansas State University rugby coach NeMani Delaibatiki will no longer be in charge of the program after his contract was not renewed for 2015-16. University officials say A-State has decided to go in a different direction with the program.
“We appreciate Mani’s enthusiasm for the game and his work with our team the past year,” Matt Huckaby, executive director of student wellness, said. “This was a transitional year as Arkansas State moved into new competitions and we thank Mani for his work toward those goals.”
Huckaby said Delaibtiki will coach the team through the end of the current season, and a search for a new coach begins soon.
The Red Wolves are preparing to compete in the 2015 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, Saturday and Sunday, May 30-31, in Philadelphia, Pa. A-State is a two-time national champion of the 2012 and 2013 USA College 7s title. The team earned a bid for the collegiate rugby title tournament in February by posting a 6-0 record during a sweep of the Las Vegas Invitational.
Delaibatiki, who hails from Hamilton-Waikato, New Zealand, came to Arkansas State in 2013 and served as the head coach and director of rugby for two seasons. At that time, he replaced Huckaby who was the interim head coach.
“I respect the direction the school wants to take the rugby team,” said Delaibatiki. “I wish Arkansas State University all the best with the direction they want to take the team, and hope it continues its successful run by being a powerhouse in collegiate rugby.”
The Red Wolf program had joined the Varsity Cup competition in the summer of 2014. The Cup is an elite group of collegiate teams playing traditional rugby 15s. A-State was eliminated from the tournament after falling to Clemson, 26-22, in the first round two weeks ago.