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A-State Rugby Players Named To AIG MCAA All-America Squad; Will Play In Touring Schedule


JONESBORO — Three Arkansas State University rugby players have been named to the AIG Men's Collegiate all-America team (American International Group MCAA) by USARugby.com and will play a three-game touring squad schedule against Cambridge and Ontario.

The three include senior Shaun Potgieter, a member of the starting 15, and sophomore Harry Higgins and junior Connor Cook on the reserves list. The trio was also invited to the USA All-America Rugby Camp.

“I am very proud our players get recognized and considered to represent their country at the collegiate all-America levels,” said A-State coach NeMani Delaibatiki. “They have all worked so hard for it and deserve the accolades. It’s a culmination of the type of the athletes we have here at Arkansas State, and all the coaches from Coach Curt and Matt Huckaby and Coach (Alex) Houser who started their development and got them to where they are today. I am just merely blessed to have been part of their journey in a small way since being here, and I am grateful for that.”

Delaibatiki mentioned, in addition to the three who are named to the squad, several Arkansas State players were considered for invitations to the camp, including Gavin Brown, Tom Haussrer, Kuda Makuvire, Paul Steyn Benade, and Kirk Pretorius. They were unable to attend the camp due to previous obligations and commitments.

The all-Americas’ first match is Saturday, June 21, against Cambridge University. The match gets underway at noon at Dartmouth College. A second MCAA team will face the Collegiate Barbarians, a team consisting of university students in Ontario, at 3 p.m. at Dartmouth College. The final two tour matches will be held at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton, Mass., with Cambridge and the Blues of Ontario.

“It’s never always about rugby here at Arkansas State,” continued Delaibatiki. “Our program is also about building great young men to become leaders, and to be positive contributors to society, alongside getting a degree at A-State while playing rugby through the process, and seeing our players excel both with achievements such as this as all-Americas, and in the classroom as great students make our jobs as coaches and mentors for these fine young men so much more rewarding and fulfilling.

“The reason why I coach is for the type of players I have in our program. These are players that want to succeed and will work hard at all costs to make things happen. As a coach for rugby, that's a luxury because I have the type of young men that will work hard to be the best that they can be and this is an excellent example of that—being recognized by their peers from all the colleges in the country as being part of the best and elite player pool in the country. To be recognized like this is great for the university, but it is also especially for these players and their families.”

The three matches can be seen live by going to USARugby.org and clicking on one of the upcoming events, including two Cambridge matches (June 21 and June 25) and the Ontario Blues (June 28).

Potgieter, Cook, Higgins
(from left) Shaun Potgieter, Connor Cook and Harry Higgins