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Rugby Dominates Alabama in Season Opener


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —Arkansas State University ’s rugby team used its depth to unleash fire power on both sides of the ball to defeat Alabama, 51-6, in collegiate rugby during the season opener here Friday night.

rugby vs Alabama
Chancellor Kelly Damphousse and wife Beth celebrate with Red Wolves following 51-6 win over Alabama.

The Red Wolves had to overcome a slow beginning after controlling the opening kick. The Crimson Tide got on the board early, connecting on the first of two penalty kicks—Alabama’s only points of the match. A-State’s Tino Msasanure answered with a try in the corner to give the Red Wolves its first score and A-State the slight 5-3 edge.

Louis Neal added another score under the posts for Arkansas State, and Alabama added its final points of the day with a second penalty kick to send A-State in at the half ahead, 10-6.

“We had a slow start,” second-year head coach Blake White said. “Traveling the day of the match is always a risky move and it showed for us. Alabama brought great energy and were up for the challenge.”

A-State came out on fire in the second half with Dante Bandoni scoring the try three minutes in. During the next three minutes, Calvin Gentry added another successful try. Mazvita James Nyamarebvu’s conversion gave the Red Wolves the 22-6 lead.

With 26 minutes remaining, Bodoni had his second score, followed with a try by Nyamarebvu. Keagan Barrett’s conversion helped to increase A-State’s margin to 34-6.

The Red Wolves sealed the win with a Romain Merlo try and David Sandoval conversion, Val Balande’s score in the corner, and a try by Elvis Circi.

“I was very impressed with the composure of our new players to be able to come on and seize the momentum and use that to put up 41 points in the second half and more importantly hold them to zero,” said assistant coach Matt Guest.

“Our depth really showed because we were able to bring on our subs and they got us going in the second half,” added White. “Good teams are able to have a slow start and build their own momentum and that’s exactly what we did. We’re going to need some time to develop all of these young guys, but I’m confident we’re headed in the right direction as a program.”

Arkansas State will travel to Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 15, to play Mississippi State.