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Rugby Hangs on to Defeat Navy, 31-24


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Despite a second-half surge by the U.S. Naval Academy, Arkansas State University’s rugby team hung on to defeat the Midshipmen, 31-24, Saturday morning in the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup 15s National Championship at the Naval Academy Brigade Sports Complex.

A-State will move to the semifinals to play Brigham Young in Provo, Utah, Saturday, April 23. BYU defeated Dartmouth, 75-15, in their quarterfinal matchup. 

“It was a tough match like we expected,” stated A-State Head Coach Shaun Potgieter after the game. “We came out on fire and executed our game plan, which resulted in multiple tries and good defensive plays.”

A try by Kuda Makuvire got the Red Wolves on the board early to take the lead, followed by Zinzan Elan-Puttick’s successful conversion to make the score, 7-0. But, Makuvire wasn’t finished as he scored his second try and the subsequent conversion put the Red Wolves up, 14-0, with 25 minutes remaining in the first half.

Zac Young, back in the lineup after missing a week with a strained quad muscle, scored under the posts on a line break of a lineout from mid-field. After the conversion, A-State continued to build the lead to 21-0. As halftime closed in, the Red Wolves were good on a penalty kick to make the score, 24-0, with five minutes in the first period. Navy’s first points came at the halftime buzzer, to send both teams in with the score, 24-7.

Young came out again early in the second half to score the try. With the good conversion, A-State continued to climb, 29-7. Another try and conversion helped the Red Wolves to pull further away, 31-7.

However, the Midshipmen scored consecutive tries to squeeze the gap to 31-19. A loose ball picked up by Navy resulted in another try, and the home team inched closer, 31-24, with nine minutes remaining in the game. But, Arkansas State held on to come away with the victory. 

“Navy came out with an intention to win the game in the second half, and our defensive structure started folding and we couldn’t swing the momentum around,” continued Potgieter. “They kept the ball away from us for most of the second half.”

Although A-State came out relatively unscathed injury-wise, Makuvire did sustain a knee injury and Kirk Pretorius left the game with a shoulder problem. However, Potgieter said both are okay.

“I’m happy with the win, especially after two long days of travel, a foreign environment and a determined Navy side. We are prepared for next weekend.”

Connor Cook, Ricardo Lategan
Connor Cook (left) and Ricardo Lategan work to bring down Navy ball carrier— Photo by  Colleen McCloskey