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Rugby Advances With Win Over Utah Valley; Will Face Navy


JONESBORO – Arkansas State University’s rugby team barely had time to enjoy Saturday’s win over Utah Valley University before learning the Red Wolves will be hosting a semifinal match next weekend of the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.

A-State took advantage of warm weather, a vocal crowd and strong defense to knock off Utah Valley, 39-12, in the quarterfinal matchup at home. Immediately following the victory, the Red Wolves learned they would be at home again next Saturday, April 22, to play Navy. Game time is 1 p.m. at Curt Huckaby Field, 501 Red Wolf Trail.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” said second-year head coach Shaun Potgieter. “We have been having tendencies to come out flat, but today we came out strong. And, we played good defense and kept making a stand.”

A-State also made an offensive stand at the start of the game by building a quick 15-0 lead. With the clock ticking down to zero, Nick Abreus bulled in the successful try to send the home team ahead, 20-0, at the end of the first half.

The Red Wolves came out early in the second period, and Preston Weigel took the feed from Valentin Balande and scored the try at the 33-minute mark. Brock Roper connected on the conversion, and upped the lead to 27-0.

Utah Valley was able to get on the board twice late in the contest, but couldn’t chip away A-State’s lead. Tabo Maree burst around the end to score the try, and was followed by Weigel, who snagged the pass from Zach Young and scored his second try on the day with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game.

“Preston played very well today,” continued Potgieter. “He didn’t play last weekend against Oklahoma because of a slight injury, but he is fine now.”

Potgieter was also pleased with the way his team was able to spread the ball around.

The coaching staff and team were notified immediately that Navy had defeated Central Washington, 27-24, late in the game and will be making the trip to Arkansas State.

“I’m happy that these guys, especially the seniors, will get another chance to play at home,” added Potgieter. “We’re a little banged up and Navy is huge. They have about 15 pounds on us, but that helps us to be ready. We’ll just move on after today.

“We really want to thank the fans who came out today and cheered this team on and hope we’ll have a good crowd next Saturday.”

Blace Walser vs. Utah Valley
Arkansas State's Blace Walser is chased by a Utah Valley player in Saturday's rugby game.