Rugby to Square Off Against Lindenwood in Tournament Quarterfinal
JONESBORO – Following a week of travel issues that kept Arkansas State University’s rugby club team away from home, the Red Wolves will face powerful Lindenwood University in the east division quarterfinal match of the D1ARugby.com national championship tournament, Saturday, April 20.
The game will be played in Prusmack Rugby Center at the Brigade Sports Complex at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., at 12 p.m. CDT. Navy is serving as host for the east division of championship play. The match is being streamed live by FloRugby.com.
“It’s been a crazy week,” said Head Coach Blake White. “After playing Army, our flight was cancelled and we wouldn’t be able to travel back until Wednesday. We would have been flying back here Friday anyway, so it was just smarter to get in rental cars and head straight to Annapolis.”
White commented that, with the exception of the team spending one day in Washington, D.C., to soak up American history, it has been business as usual.
“We’ve had trainings and recovery sessions, but most of the time has been filled with the guys working on their classwork in their hotel rooms,” White continued. “Navy has accommodated us and let us practice at their facility while we’ve been here, which has been a tremendous help.”
The sixth-ranked Red Wolves advanced to the quarterfinal round after defeating Army, 31-24, at West Point, N.Y., last weekend, while No. 5-ranked Lindenwood made it to the next round with a 97-0 rout of Wisconsin.
“We play in the toughest conference in the country,” added the second-year head coach. “And, to make the playoffs alone is an accomplishment coming from our conference. To travel to Army and play as well as we did and hang on for the win was huge for us. Army was a great challenge in itself, let alone the travel and everything else you add to playing at such a great facility and historic venue.”
A-State’s seniors have stepped up in the playoffs to lead the team effort. Against Army, Dylan Boast continued his assault with the try and conversions, along with Tabo Maree, Val Balande and Brock Roper.
Lindenwood had come off of a three-week break when the Lions met Wisconsin on the road in the opening round. LU quickly built a 47-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Arkansas State and Lindenwood have met twice this spring, with the Red Wolves taking the first game, 29-23, in the opener and dropping the second, 16-0, in March in an exhibition matchup.
“I'm extremely proud of what our group has accomplished this season,” White concluded. “The situation certainly hasn’t been ideal, but I’m not going to start making excuses. Every situation has its positives and negatives. I think it took a couple days for the guys to wrap their heads around what was happening and how we're still on a business trip.
“But as the match gets closer, I think the focus has started to narrow again. Lindenwood knows us and we know Lindenwood, and at this point in the season, it's about who can just show up and play the best on the day.”