Arkansas State

BYU Powers Past Arkansas State

BYU Powers Past Arkansas State

by Brett Anker
Photo Credit: Davey Wilson

BYU dominated Arkansas State 68-20 in route to its fourth consecutive Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final. The Cougars pulled away in the late stage of the first half and the early part of the second to win comfortably.

The Whippy brothers accounted for the first 17 points for the Cougars. In the sixth minute, Joshua Whippy intercepted a pass from his outside center position to walk in for the score. His brother and flyhalf, Jared slotted the conversion to take a 7-0 lead. 10 minutes later, the duo combined to double up the lead for BYU. Off a scrum, the Josh ran an inside line off his brother and weaved through the confused Red Wolves defense for 14-0 lead.

“They have been playing rugby all their lives. When it goes well it goes well,” BYU Assistant Coach Wayne Tarawhiti said of the Fijan born twins. “Both those guys appreciate each other’s skills and we allow for them to sort of go for it as well.”

ASU struck back off some excellent phase play. Tabo Maree ended up breaking through the line and dove over to cut the deficit to nine. Jared Whippy got BYU back in score sheet with a penalty but Zin Zan Elan-Puttick added one of his own to keep Arkansas State within range at 17-8.

By the 35th minute however, BYU began to take over the game. Zane Mendenhall and Josh Anderson scored tries before the break, giving the Cougars a 27-8 halftime lead. The home side continued the onslaught in the first 15 minutes of the second half. The Cougars scored in the 42nd minute and Anderson added his second of the match minutes later to extend the lead to 37-8. Matt Jensen then added two more in the span of four minutes to give BYU a 51-8 lead. In total, the explosive BYU attack netted six tries in less than a 20-minute span to blow the game wide open.

“We tried hard to correct some stuff that happened last year. Last year there was a time where we would get out rather quickly but then we sort of would fall asleep,” said Tarawhiti. “This year we concentrated a lot on trying to put teams away.”

The Red Wolves responded with a try from Elan-Puttick but the Cougars would add three more scores before ASU finished off the game with a final score. Anderson tallied his third while Tua Laei and Luke Mocke both made their way into the score sheet.

“Yesterday was a good game for us. We played some pretty expansive rugby. We have been training to get where we peak at the right time. Yesterday was an example of that. We allowed the boys to play a pretty expansive game of rugby and allowed them to play what’s in front of them. Yesterday was a combination of all of that and we did really well,” Tarawhiti said.

BYU will host Cal in the Varsity Cup final on May 7th. The game will be broadcast live on the NBCSN at 2PM MST/4PM EST.

2016 Semi-Final Match Schedule | April 23rd

2016 Semi-Final Match Schedule | April 23rd


The Varsity Cup Semi-Finals see Arkansas State heading to reigning champs BYU, and Cal will play host to CWU. Who will advance to earn a spot in this year’s national championship?

See the below for more information on the where and when the matches are being held and how you can watch remotely:

BYU vs. Arkansas State

– Location: South Field, BYU Campus, Provo, UT 84606
– Time: 1:00 PM MDT
– Webcast: Live on YouTube (

Cal vs. CWU

– Location: Witter Rugby Field, 210 Stadium Rim Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
– Time: 1:00 PM PDT

BYU vs. Arkansas State | 2016 Semi-Final Preview

BYU vs. Arkansas State | 2016 Semi-Final Preview

by Brett Anker

BYU will meet Arkansas State in the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup this weekend in Provo, Utah. The Cougars last met the Red Wolves in the 2012 Division One National Championship. The Cougars won a thrilling 49-42 match in their first of four consecutive national championships.

“The last time we played Arkansas State was in the national championship in 2012. They were a great opponent then and I can’t see them not being just as good. They have some good fundamentals and are a well coached team,” assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti said of Arkansas State.

BYU improved to 21-0 after handily defeating Dartmouth last weekend. The Cougars have scored in droves all season. The forward pack is extremely experienced and the back line incredibly explosive.

“Our team has continued to work hard carrying the momentum from the regular season to the playoffs this year,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s performance this season. “We need to continue to stay disciplined all 80-minutes of the game and keep up our intensity. Arkansas State will play their best and will bring it on Saturday.”

Arkansas State has used this week to mend sore bodies and prepare for another week of tough travel. The Red Wolves logged a lot of miles traveling to Navy last weekend and will have another long trip to Utah for Saturday’s match.

“It is going to take a lot of preparation. Starting right now. Getting all the knocks and bruises is first things first and mentally preparing as we travel home,” Arkansas State coach Shaun Potgeiter said after the win over Navy.

The Red Wolves realize they may need to open it up this weekend. With a potent BYU attack playing in front of a home crowd, Potgeiter expects a high scoring match.

“I think it is going to be a try fest. We are going to expect to be scored on. It is BYU. They can attack as is. On our end we are pretty lethal on attack as well. I think it is going to be an exciting game,” Potgeiter said.

The match kicks off 1PM MST.

Arkansas State Holds Off Navy

Arkansas State Holds Off Navy

by Brett Anker

Arkansas State withstood a late second half surge from Navy to punch its first ever ticket to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup quarterfinals. Despite a valiant comeback attempt, Navy will miss out on its first Varsity Cup quarterfinal in four years.

The Red wolves could not have gotten off to a better start on the road. Prop Kuda Makuvire dotted down twice in the first 15 minutes for a 14-0 lead. Zac Young broke through the Navy line for third score and a penalty from Zinzan Elan-Puttick extended the lead to 24-0 in the 35th minute.

“We came out firing in the first half. Moved the ball around well. Defended well. We did prepare all week for Navy’s attack so things worked out pretty well in the first half,” said ASU coach Shaun Potgeiter.

Navy finally got on the board in the forty-minute mark. After Arkansas State had a player sent to the sin bin, the Midshipmen spent five minutes inside the ASU five-meter line. After several penalties, Ben Johnston punched it in. With the conversion, it was 24-7 going into the break.

Navy looked to continue the momentum from the end of the first half. Despite being down a man, however, Young scored his second of the day for the Red Wolves and extended the lead to 31-7. It appeared that this score would end the hopes of a Navy comeback.

The Midshipmen refused to give in, however, and started mounting a comeback The Navy work rate and fitness paid dividends later in the second half, starting with a try from scrumhalf Gardy Lebon. Minutes later, the Academy found the try zone again. Jake Martin got Navy’s third of the half and with about 10 minutes to play off a loose ball and with 10 minutes to play it was a one score game.

“We expected them to come out in the second half firing. Just try to come back and get themselves back into the game, which they did,” Potgeiter said of the Navy comeback.

“It speaks to who we are. It is the Naval academy. A bunch of young men just filled with character. We were not happy with our first half performance and that the score line was against us and we had to come out and make some changes,” Navy coach Mike Flanagan said of his team.

Despite the comeback from Navy, Arkansas State managed to weather the storm for the remainder of the game. Navy was pressing inside ASU territory in the waning moments but a knock-on ended the possession and the game.

“The guys really showed guts to hold them out of the try zone at the end,” Potgeiter concluded.

Arkansas State will take on BYU in the semifinals next weekend.

2016 Quarterfinal Match Schedule | April 16th

2016 Quarterfinal Match Schedule | April 16th


The Varsity Cup Quarterfinals are nearly upon us! There are some critical matchups tomorrow Sat., April 16th as Arkansas State, Army, BYU, Cal, CWU, Dartmouth, Navy, & Utah will do battle to see who earns at spot in the Semi-Finals.

See the below for more information on the where and when the matches are being held and how you can watch remotely:

Army vs. Cal

– Location: Anderson Rugby Complex, River Rd., West Point, NY 10996
– Time: 3:00 PM EDT
– Webcast: Army “Knight Vision” (

Dartmouth vs. BYU

– Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
– Time: 1:00 PM EDT
– Webcast: Live on YouTube (

Navy vs. Arkansas State

Location: Naval Academy Brigade Sports Complex, 64 Greenbury Point Rd., Annapolis, MD 21402
Time: 11:00 AM EDT

Utah vs. CWU

Location: Salt Lake Regional Sports Complex, 2280 N. Rose Park Lane, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Time: 12:00 PM MDT
Webcast: KUTE Radio (

Navy vs. Arkansas State | 2016 Quarterfinal Preview

Navy vs. Arkansas State | 2016 Quarterfinal Preview

by Brett Anker

Arkansas State will head to Annapolis to take on Navy in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. Both teams logged convincing wins last weekend and it sure to be a physical encounter.

Navy and Arkansas State are entering unfamiliar territory, as the schools have not played in nearly a decade. Although Navy and Arkansas State are unfamiliar teams, they are very similar in playing style. Both Navy and Arkansas State are built on strong forward packs and play similar styles. This game is sure to be won at the breakdown, where both teams are known to compete heavily.

“It will be a fight in the trenches up front. We are going to have weather the storm a little bit,” said Arkansas State coach Shaun Potgeiter.

Both teams play with great defensive shape. Arkansas State blanked Clemson last weekend and has been tough to score on all spring. Navy held Notre Dame to three points and is always well disciplined. Arkansas State is aware of the discipline and will need to take any opportunities presented to it.

“We know they are going to be structured, which is typical of a militia team,” Potgeiter added. “We are going to have to be aware of their structure and keep our defensive aggressiveness up. Once we get the ball, if we can make some things happen, then I think that will help us score a few points on them.”

As a military school, Navy is always ready for the challenge. The Midshipmen are taking it one game at a time and are excited for the contest.

“They are a solid team. They are going to be a challenge. We are just grateful to get on to the next round,” said Navy coach Mike Flanagan. “Our motto through this championship season is we are playing for 80 more minutes.”

It will be an action packed 80 minutes of bruising rugby. Playing in front of a home crowd, the Midshipmen are seeking their fourth consecutive Varsity Cup semifinals. However, a determined and healthy ASU squad is looking to make up for an early exit last year and advance to its firs ever final four.

The game kicks off at 11EST.

Arkansas State Blanks Clemson in Varsity Cup Rematch

Arkansas State Blanks Clemson in Varsity Cup Rematch

by Brett Anker

Arkansas State avenged last year’s loss to Clemson in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup with a 50-0 win over the Tigers in Jonesboro, Ark. on Saturday. The Tigers had no answer for the dynamic and open game that the Red Wolves played.

Sione Fanagaiuiha opened the scoring four minutes into the match and Preston Weigel extended the lead to 14-0 not long after. Clemson looked to get back into the game at this point and nearly scored. However, the Tigers were called for a double move at the goal line and the Red Wolves got out of trouble. That was the closest Clemson would come to scoring on the afternoon.

Ruan Knuppel got the third for ASU and Austin Bush dotted down right before halftime to increase the lead to 24-0. Arkansas State did a good job of exploiting space out wide, with nearly all of its scores coming from outflanking the defense.

“I think we spread the ball well. We talked about it before the game, passing and handling, moving the ball a little bit,” said ASU coach Shaun Potgeiter. “I think in the previous games we put the ball on the boot a bit too often so we decided to throw it around a little bit and that worked.”

A great combination between Pedro Alavarez and Connor Cook led to the next score. While Cook made it into the score sheet on this occasion, Alvarez got two of his own later in the match to extend the lead to 43-0. Finally, Fanagaiuiha closed out the game with his second of the day.

With the first half cushion, the Red Wolves were able to run in some subs as the game went on. While Potgeiter thought his team had a great first half performance, there was a little bit of a let up in the second half. Nevertheless, he was extremely happy his team kept Clemson off the score sheet and that his side walked away with a convincing win.

“I thought it was a great first half. We stayed disciplined and stuck to our game plan. Got a little bit sloppy in the second half, lost our structure a little bit and started slipping off tackles. But generally speaking, it was a great victory,” Potgeiter added.

2016 Opening Round Match Schedule | April 9th

2016 Opening Round Match Schedule | April 9th


Army vs. Oklahoma

Location: Anderson Rugby Complex, River Rd., West Point, NY 10996
Time: 3:00 PM EDT
Webcast: Army “Knight Vision” (

Arizona State vs. BYU

Location: ASU Poly Campus, 7001 E. Williams Field Rd., Mesa, AZ 85212
Time: 7:00 PM MST

Arkansas State vs. Clemson

Location: ASU Rugby Pitch, 501 Red Wolf Trail Rd., Jonesboro, AR 72401
Time: 1:30 PM CDT

Cal vs. Texas

Location: Witter Rugby Field, 210 Stadium Rim Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
Time: 12:00 PM PDT


Location: CWU Wildcat Rugby Field, Ellensburg, WA 98926
Time: 1:00 PM PDT
Webcast: Wildcat “Event Zone” (

Dartmouth vs. Penn State

Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Webcast: Live on YouTube (

Navy vs. Notre Dame

Location: Naval Academy Brigade Sports Complex, 64 Greenbury Point Rd., Annapolis, MD 21402
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Webcast: TBD

Utah vs. Air Force

Location: McCarthy Field, 76 S. Wasatch Dr., Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Time: 12:00 PM MDT
Webcast: KUTE Radio (

Arkansas State vs. Clemson | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Arkansas State vs. Clemson | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Arkansas State will host Clemson University in the first round of the Varsity Cup on April 9th. It is the second consecutive year that the schools have met in the first round, with Clemson coming from behind to win 26-22 at home last spring.

For this go around, both teams have a bit of a new look. Both Arkansas State and Clemson have undergone coaching changes. Former ASU All-American Shaun Potgeiter has taken over the helm at his Alma Mater, while Steve Lynch has succeeded last year’s Varsity Cup coach of the year Justin Hickey at Clemson.

Clemson come into the match with a combined fall and spring record of 9-5. The Tigers swept through ACRL play in the fall but fell to a tough AIC team in the ACRC Bowl Series. Lynch’s side played a tough spring schedule, including matches against Life, South Carolina, Wheeling Jesuit and fellow Varsity Cup competitors, Navy, Air Force and Penn State.

Playing at home, the Red Wolves will definitely be seeking revenge this year. Although Lynch is new to Clemson, he is anticipating a hungry opponent. The Tigers are well tested coming into the match with ASU, but Lynch admitted it is going to take a full team effort to come away with a victory.

“In order for us to beat Arkansas State, as good as they are playing right now, all 15 guys have to be involved. My first 15 have to play at their absolute best,” Lynch said. “I don’t think they brought their full complement of athletes against us last year. I think they are gunning for us, so we need to bring our very best on both sides of the ball and every single guy needs to play the best that can possibly play in order for us to compete with Arkansas State.”

While Clemson has played a packed schedule all year, ASU matches have been much more scattered. Unfortunately, the Red Wolves had a number of games cancelled, but early contests against tough opponents like Davenport and Life, the Red Wolves were able to gauge the progress of the program.

“That definitely helped us to see where we are in the season,” Potgeiter said of the matches against Davenport and Life. “It was pretty early in the season so it allowed us to fix some things and strengthen our positives. We did have some cancellations after that, which kind of brought us on the back seat with game time. We have had quite a long break at the moment. We are kind of unsure how that will benefit or not be good for us.”

The time off, however, has put ASU in much better place physically this year. Eight man Kirk Pretorius returns after missing most of last year with an ACL injury and captain Robert Elan-Puttick comes in firing on all cylinders from is fly half position. Along with wing Preston Weigel, who missed some of the spring with concussion issues, the Red Wolves come into the game completely healthy.

ASU is excited to host the Varsity Cup this year and are looking to right the wrongs of last year.

“We went down disappointingly as the heavy favorites last year….They played one heck of a game on their home turf and they really brought it to us. It is up to us this time around to bring it to them on our home turf,” Potgeiter iterated.

Round 1 Recap: Clemson Earns First Varsity Cup Win Over Arkansas State

Round 1 Recap: Clemson Earns First Varsity Cup Win Over Arkansas State

Clemson earned their first ever Penn Mutual Varsity Cup win with a thrilling 26-22 victory over Arkansas State. Two late penalties from Aaron Keers spoiled a second half comeback for the Red Wolves.

Arkansas State controlled the early stages of the game, pressuring Clemson with their kicking game. The Tigers defense held strong but their defensive line started to narrow. Arkansas State found the space out wide and busted through for the opening score of the game.

Clemson settled down after conceding the opening points, and got on the board through the first of three Aaron Keers penalties. The Clemson pack began to impose there will Arkansas State, chipping away at the fringes. After some valiant defense from the Red Wolves and even better patience from Clemson, Max Simons dove over to take an 8-7 lead.

The Tigers continued to apply pressure to Arkansas State, monopolizing territory and possession. The home side earned a penalty five meters out and Kevin Mckeown snuck over the line to increase the lead to 15-7.

A penalty cut the Clemson lead to 15-10 but moments before halftime, Clemson sustained pressure inside the Red Wolves 22. The forwards kept banging away at the fringes and finally the ball made its way to winger Chris Abraham, who fended off two defenders, for a 20-10 halftime lead.

“We have relied heavily on forwards and after the first 10 minutes we felt like we started to display a little bit of dominance in the forwards,” said Clemson coach Justin Hickey. “A lot of what I was hearing amongst the team at halftime was that they felt good, they felt confidence there to build phases in tight with the forwards and just make yards, regain possession, be patient and wait for things to open up. Credit to our forwards, they did a great job controlling that aspect of the game.”

Clemson seemed to pick up where they left off, winning the game at the breakdown. They withstood a couple of forays into their 22 but were in the ascendancy. Looking to increase their lead, the Tigers had numbers wide but Michael Krochta intercepted the pass and ran 70 meters for an ASU score.

The Red Wolves seized the momentum and began to make gains through the backline. Starting inside their own territory, ASU broke the Clemson line and used several well-executed offloads down the left sideline to tie the game. Arkansas State nailed the tough conversion to go up 22-20.

Clemson pursued the game but a number of knock-ons and penalties thwarted their attack. The Tigers, who had been strong in the scrum all afternoon, struggled to maintain the dominance in the waning minutes.

 The referee, however, awarded a penalty to Clemson off a scrum with eight minutes to play and Keers placed the kick through the uprights from 35 meters out to retake the lead 23-22. Keers later added another penalty from 40 meters out down the left sideline, forcing ASU to score a try in order to win the match. The incredibly tough kick inspired the home side to throttle up the defensive pressure.

“They have that conversation every game, where do you feel good from,” Hickey said of his captain and his kicker. “He said I wanted it and I went to my radio and said he must know something I don’t. Obviously, he was feeling good, ended up striking the ball well, and while it only put us up by four, it really was a nail in the coffin.”

The remaining minutes saw ASU attempt another comeback, but tenacious defense from the hosts prevented the score. The Clemson defense was superb all day other than a few moments and ultimately guided them to victory on the afternoon.

“They clearly like to move the ball to the sideline and get it straight to the 13 channel,” Hickey said of Arkansas State. “In the second half kind of flooding that channel defensively was the difference.”

For Clemson, it was their first ever Varsity Cup win, and with the win have earned a matchup with Navy in the quarterfinals.

“I am just proud and excited for the guys,” Hickey said. “For them to be able to stick in their, keep their composure and make critical decisions under pressure and really just kind of grind it out and do what we need to do was really great.”