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Rugby Red Wolves Advance to Quarterfinals of Penn Mutual 7s National Championship


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – After winning two matches and tying one to win pool play, Arkansas State University advanced to the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship Saturday afternoon. This is the third consecutive quarterfinal appearance for the Red Wolves in the national tournament.

A-State will play Lindenwood University Sunday morning at 10 CT.

The Red Wolves defeated Notre Dame, 22-7, in the first match, followed with a 21-12 victory over Wisconsin in the second game. A-State and longtime foe Life University tied, 19-19, in the final game of the day’s pool play. Arkansas State was able to move on due to leading in the point difference from pool play.

“We had a slow start today against Notre Dame,” said head coach Shaun Potgieter. “But, we picked up our focus against Wisconsin with a good defensive performance. We moved on to the Life match knowing that it was going to be a tough one and the decider of the pool.”

Neil Maestri picked up points on two tries against the Fighting Irish. Two more tries came on efforts by Zach Young and Sione Fangaiuiha, with conversions by Dylan Boast.

Maestri kept up the pace with a successful try in the second match against Wisconsin. Blace Walser and Ruan Knuppel each scored a try, and conversions by Preston Weigel (two) and Knuppel sealed the win for A-State.

The final match of the day was a little tricky for A-State and Life. As the clock ticked down late in the second half, Life managed to squeeze in a try to tie it up, 19-all. Nick Abreus scored twice for the Red Wolves, along with a penalty try by Maestri. The penalty try is automatically good for seven points, helping Arkansas State move on to the next round.

“We made some crucial disciplinary mistakes during the Life game that led to us playing with five players for a few minutes and put our defense under immense pressure,” added Potgieter. “But, we held out to get the tie.

“I’m proud of the players for making it through to the cup quarterfinals. We have a big game in the morning against, in my opinion, the tournament favorite.”

The Penn Mutual Championship will be televised Sunday, June 4, beginning with a special, “Rugby Rising,” airing from 11:30 a.m.-noon CT on NBCSN. Playoff rounds get underway at noon until 2 p.m. CT on NBCSN and 2-4 p.m. CT on NBC.

Ruan Knuppel vs Notre Dame 2017
Arkansas State rugby player Ruan Knuppel against Notre Dame in Penn Mutual 7s Collegiate Rugby Championship Saturday afternoon.
— Photo courtesy of Andrew Ferguson