A-State Rugby Will Play Scrimmage Game Sept. 6; Ranks Fifth In Preseason National Poll
JONESBORO —With the 2014 fall season just around the corner, fans will get a chance to watch Arkansas State’s rugby team in a scrimmage matchup. The Red Team squares off against the Black Team, Saturday, Sept. 6, at 3 p.m. at the A-State Rugby Pitch. Admission is free.
The game will also be streamed live online and can be viewed by accessing http://www.ustream.tv/channel/redwolvesrugby?utm_campaign=www.facebook.com&utm_source=ustre.am%2F1h4nM&utm_medium=social&utm_content=20140905111534.
In addition, Arkansas State rugby team is ranked fifth in the latest men’s college top-25 poll for Rugbytoday.com, an online magazine.
The Red Wolves follow number-one ranked Brigham Young, California, St. Mary’s and Life University to round out the top five. Rugbytoday.com writer Pat Clifton writes, “We feel confident that the top five teams are all pretty undeniable.” But, he also points out the Red Wolves will be looking to reload after losing several seniors to graduation.
“Rankings don’t really affect our preparations,” said NeMani Delaibatiki, A-State’s head coach. “It’s a good gauge to see where we stand against other teams based on outside opinions and polls, but it’s more important we let our boys know that regardless of what others think, we have to still prove ourselves.”
“To others this might be a slow season for A-State rugby because of our large senior class leaving, including a handful of All-Americans,” continued Delaibatiki. “But, that's the mindset we never welcome here at Arkansas State University. Because regardless of who puts on the game day jersey, we will still showcase Arkansas State rugby, and that's the challenge all our guys are stepping up to starting this Saturday for our scrimmage.”
“We as coaches will be looking at positions from the front all the way to our speedsters and who performs the best in those positions,” explained Delaibatiki. “Our selection criteria are always based on performance, regardless of experience, because it promotes the idea that no one is guaranteed a spot. You have to work hard to keep your spot or you lose it. It’s a simple concept.”
The two scrimmage teams were selected earlier in the week during a “mock” draft with assistant coach Shaun Potgieter choosing the Black Team and assistant coach Blake White choosing players for the Red Team.
Twenty-seven new players have joined the squad, but Delaibatiki said the “level of intensity and heart needed to play A-State rugby is still the same. The scrimmage this Saturday will set the benchmark for us moving forward, and I am excited to see what these next 10 months will bring for our rugby club. Onward and upward from here."
A-State opens the regular season Sept. 13 in Little Rock in a tournament that includes the University of Arkansas, Middle Tennessee State University, Louisiana Tech University and the University of Memphis.