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” (http://goarmywestpoint.com/watch)

Dartmouth vs. BYU

– Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
– Time: 1:00 PM EDT
– Webcast: Live on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA5QqeCNdDY)

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 (http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/h06yz)

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.

Navy Stymies Notre Dame in Varsity Cup

Navy Stymies Notre Dame in Varsity Cup

by Brett Anker

Navy scored 40 unanswered second half points to put away Notre Dame 57-3 in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. After a sloppy first half that saw points go begging, the Midshipmen exploded for a six try second half.

The Military Academy got on the board first through hooker Dan McCaffrey. Jacob Griffin and Mike Samaniego added tries later in the half to go up 17-0. The Fighting Irish notched a penalty right before halftime to make it 17-3 going into the break.

The Midshipmen missed on a number of opportunities in the first half and with a high penalty count, Navy made it hard on themselves. After a tough first stanza, though, the floodgates opened in the second half. Griffin and McCaffrey both tallied their second while Kevin Kirshmer, Connor McNerney and Zach Coffman all found pay dirt as well.

“We talked at halftime about just getting back to fundamentals. We tried to do a little too much. Be a little too slick with the ball in our hands,” said Navy coach Mike Flanagan. “It was a slippery wet service and it just wasn’t going to happen that way. We just dialed it back a bit, stayed with fundamentals and patience paid off.”

While Navy was explosive on offense, it was extremely impressive on defense. For Flanagan, that is the key to advancing in the Varsity Cup.

“The ability to defend here is way more important than the ability to score. We have got to keep people out of the goal line and I think we did a pretty good job today sort of putting a cap on Notre Dame,” Flanagan said.

Navy has advanced to the semi finals of the Varsity Cup in each of the last three seasons. For the Midshipmen, today was a good rebound from a loss to Army and a solid hit out before a date with Arkansas State next weekend.

“It went about as we expected. We are a pretty solid team. We are still feeling the effects of a loss to Army a little bit and needed to get into the contact.”

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” (http://goarmywestpoint.com/watch)

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” (www.wildcatsports.com)

Dartmouth vs. Penn State

Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Webcast: Live on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EIwkyCQ3AI)

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 (http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/h06yz)

Navy vs. Notre Dame | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Navy vs. Notre Dame | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Photo Credit: Colleen McCloskey

The Storied rivalry between Navy and Notre Dame continues this weekend in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. The Midshipmen have reached the semifinals in each of the prior three Varsity Cups and will be looking to continue that streak against a young Notre Dame side.

The Fighting Irish come into the match having played very little rugby. Outside of a tour out west that saw the Irish split with San Diego and Arizona, Notre Dame has only played local Bethel College this spring. With a young and inexperienced side, the Fighting Irish will have to find form quickly against a tough Navy squad.

“All across the board, we really respect the Navy guys. Not only for what they do on the rugby field but for what type of men they are. What choices they make to choose and go represent our country. We are under no false impression how hard these guys are and what toughness means to them. That being said, we expect to get every bit of that toughness out of them,” said Notre Dame coach David Fee.

Freshman fly half Luke Denehey leads the Notre Dame back line. The English born halfback has been getting better throughout the limited season and will need to be on point for Notre Dame to stay competitive. Along with Denehey, captain Pat McMahon spearheads the forward pack from the back of the pack. McMahon controls the line outs for the Irish and will be key to maintaining possession.

“We are a very young team. We are going to play our best to compete against a very tough, very disciplined Navy squad,” Fee added.

Navy comes into the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup after playing an independent spring schedule. The Midshipmen defeated fellow VC cup competitors Clemson, Dartmouth and Penn State this spring. With a close loss to Life, a tour of the United Kingdom, and a tight loss to rival Army, Navy comes into the competition with a 6-2-1 spring record.

The Midshipmen have a history of being a physical team and this squad is no different. The Navy pack is highlighted by a powerful front row, including captain Woody Dewing and hooker Dan McAfferty, Cade Pope at lock and flanker Kevin Kirchmer add to an already strong forward pack.

“Woody Dewing is the emotional leader of our team. He plays loose head for us and is a rock solid guy,” Navy coach Mike Flanagan said of his captain. “Dan has had just a great senior year. A terrific number two.”

Navy is looking forward to a tough matchup with a traditional rival.

“We are looking forward to playing Notre Dame. It is certainly a great rivalry, Navy-Notre Dame. It ranks there with some of the great national rivalries in all of sports. To be able to host Notre Dame here in Annapolis is a real big deal for us,” Flanagan concluded.

Semi-Final Recap: Cal Trumps Navy

Semi-Final Recap: Cal Trumps Navy

Cal defeated Navy 57-15 at Witter Field to advance to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup championship. For the 3rd consecutive year, Cal will take on BYU in the final.

The Golden Bears opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a try from Harry Adolphus. Navy added a penalty but Cal outflanked the Navy defense and with a great individual effort from Miles Honens, scored a try in the corner. Honens stepped several Navy defenders in route to a 50-meter try down the left sideline.

 Navy battled its way back into the game but was unable to put up any more points in the first half.  Around the 25th minute, Cade Pope broke through the Cal line and if not for a try saving tackle from Jake Anderson would have scored. Anderson, however, was called for a high tackle and sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

The visitors probed the Cal line, but staunch defense kept them out. Cal was able to clear the line and prevent Navy from scoring during the man advantage. The Golden Bears moved down the field, and despite being down a man, were able to add three points with a Russell Webb drop goal. Cal added three more with a penalty from Anderson right before halftime to take a 16-3 lead going into the break.

Navy charged back with a try immediately following halftime. Justin Manke zipped down the left sideline to cut the Cal lead to one score. Cal immediately applied pressure, however, forcing a poor kick from the Navy 22. Webb fielded the kick, broke through the Navy line, and found Alec Gletzer to give Cal a 21-10 lead.

Gletzer was phenomenal all afternoon, and particularly disruptive at the breakdown. The senior forced a number of turnovers in critical moments. Gletzer, nonetheless, was a bit modest about his performance and gave credit to Navy for forcing his team to work incredibly hard.

“We got the job done to earn another shot at the final,” said co-captain Alec Gletzer. “It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect, but Navy deserves credit for that.”

After the Gletzer try Navy began to falter and Cal punished the Midshipmen. Anthony Salabar dotted down twice in five minutes to extend the lead to 33-10. Navy Coach Mike Flanagan praised Cal’s execution.

“Fundamentally sound all the time,” said Navy head coach Mike Flanagan of the Bears. “You’d better not make mistakes, because they will capitalize.”

Dakota Raymond answered back with another try for Navy, but it was all cal after that point. In the final twenty minutes, Cal added four more tries, with two coming from Nicholas Boyer. The Golden Bears earned the victory by the final score of 57-15.

Cal coach Jack Clark indicated that the large score was a little misleading of the Navy performance. “Nothing but respect for Navy, they were very difficult,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark. “It was a good match. They’re a bunch of stud guys.”

Cal will take on BYU at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 2nd to determine the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup champion. The game will be aired live on the NBC Sports Network.

Semi-Final Preview: Cal vs. Navy

Semi-Final Preview: Cal vs. Navy

The University of California will welcome Navy to Witter Rugby Field, Saturday, for the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. A storied rivalry, the Golden Bears and Midshipmen have faced off in a number of postseason matches over the years.

Cal and Navy played in the 1980, 1983 and 1994 national playoffs and most recently in the 2013 Varsity Cup Semifinals. The Bears have come away victorious in each of these prior meetings but Cal respects the traditionally historic Navy program.

“Over the last 35 years we’ve played Navy in the National Championships more than any other team. They are bit like the old foe,” said head coach Jack Clark. “We know them well and we respect them as athletes and men. For sure, you always wake up in the morning with your body reminding you of the hard-fought contest.”

The game will take place on Cal Day and kickoff will follow the spring football game. For a number of seniors, it will be the last time that they take the field in Strawberry Canyon for the Golden Bears. With weather conditions expected to be pristine and a strong crowd behind them, the Golden Bears are excited to host the semifinals.

“We know that we still have better play in us and we’ll look to reveal that at home next weekend said senior Jake Anderson. “It’s an honor to host the semifinal and have our fans out again on Witter.”

After defeating Texas handily last weekend, Cal will be looking to use the same formula in handling a tougher Navy squad.“Our victory conditions,” said coach Clark, “are to be accurate, stay in rhythm, use all the aspects of our attack, be varied in our options and, most importantly, play quick.”

For Navy, it has been a much more difficult road to the semifinals. The Midshipmen escaped with two one-point victories in as many weeks. Coach Mike Flanagan stressed that his side has been taking things one game at a time.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to play 80 more minutes. That has been our mantra through this whole Varsity Cup campaign,” said Flanagan. “We are not playing for a championship any given day, we are playing for 80 more minutes.”

The next 80 minutes will be extremely tough for Navy, however. Not only will they have to travel 3000 miles into a hostile environment, Navy is playing against one of the premier collegiate rugby programs in the country.

“Playing them anywhere is a hard game and they are particularly good at home,” said Navy coach Mike Flanagan. “Berkley does a phenomenal job of supporting that program They have lots of things happening for Collegiate Rugby on that campus and going into the Lion’s Den doesn’t make it any easier.”

Although Navy will face an uphill battle in the game, the experience of playing against a tough BYU squad in last year’s semifinals should bode well for the Midshipmen.

“We learned that if you are going to compete at that level, we are going to have to raise our level of physicality,” said Flanagan. “You are not going to be some smooth, free flowing team and beat someone like Cal or BYU. You have got to get physical up front and you have got to be able to have presence up front, hardcore for 80 minutes.”

The game will kickoff at 430 EST.

Quarterfinal Recap: Navy Escapes With 1-Point Victory Over Clemson

Quarterfinal Recap: Navy Escapes With 1-Point Victory Over Clemson

For the second consecutive week, Navy escaped with a one-point victory in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. Navy won 24-23 over Clemson in a tight contest for their third victory over the Tigers this year.

Aaron Keers opened the scoring for Clemson, giving the Tigers and early 3-0 lead. Navy responded with a converted try from lock Cade Pope but Clemson mauled over a score to retake the lead 10-7. Jack McAuliffle evened the score minutes later with a penalty for Navy.

Clemson retook the lead with a penalty and made the game 18-10 when outside center Dylan Goulding darted over the line. The tigers swung the ball wide, exploiting the outside space after Navy received a yellow card a few minutes prior. The score was right at the 40-minute mark and Clemson went into the break with an eight-point lead.

Navy struck first in the second half off a five-meter scrum. In the 56th minute winger Ron Helms dotted down and the successful conversion left Clemson up one.  Helms and Ben Umpingo at the wings both had very good outings and Dakota Raymond at outside center was stout defensively. In fact, Navy coach Mike Flanagan indicated that the stellar backline from the Mid Shipmen was the probably the difference this afternoon.

The Tigers stemmed the Navy momentum thanks to another strong play from Goulding. The center broke through the Navy line and after a series of offloads Ryan Gilroy finished the play with a score in the corner. With the conversion sailing wide, Clemson led 23-17.

Clemson clung to a 6 six-point lead and defended valiantly despite a yellow card. The Midshipmen punched in a try off a break, however, and with the conversion, took their first lead since early in the first half. After several phases Kevin Kirchmer picked up the ball and rambled in for the score in the 72nd minute.

The visitors pushed into Navy territory but were unable to get any more points on the board. The final whistle blew with a 24-23 score.

Overall, it was a very clean game for Navy, as they committed very few turnovers. “I thought that our contact skills were good. We didn’t lose a lot of balls in contact and we kept the ball in our hands pretty well,” Flanagan added.

Navy continues to play well from behind and very easily could have lost this game. Flanagan praised the play of Clemson and their evolution through the season.

“Its hard to beat a team three times and they got better every time we played them,” Flanagan said of Clemson. “This was no exception. They were solid as a rock.”

For Clemson, they are a team on the rise and will ultimately be happy for with their performance in the tournament, but are currently disappointed with the final result.

“We were in position to win that game and to lose it late like that is tough to take,” said Clemson coach Justin Hickey.

With only a handful of seniors and a team that now believes it can compete at the Varsity Cup level, Clemson will a be a team to look out for in future Varsity Cups.

The semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup will take place next weekend. Navy will travel to Berkeley to take on the University of California.

Round 2 Preview: Navy vs. Clemson

Round 2 Preview: Navy vs. Clemson

In their third meeting of the season, Navy and Clemson will do battle in Annapolis, Md. It will be the third meeting of the year between the two sides with Navy taking the first two matches.

This will be the first of the three matches that Navy will have hosted against Clemson this season. In the fall, the Midshipmen used a couple of late scores to pull away from the Tigers 50-22 at Clemson, and this spring Navy outlasted Clemson 39-25 at the Charlotte Rugby Complex.

Having played each other twice this year, both teams are very familiar with one another. For Clemson, they relish the chance to play at a service academy and look forward to the challenge.

“It is always an incredible honor, any time you play the military academies and anytime you can play Navy. It is a team that we know very well, it is the third time we will have played them this academic year and they are one that we are very familiar with. We are excited to visit Annapolis and give it a crack and see if the third time is the charm,” said Clemson coach Justin Hickey.

Clemson have learned lessons from the first two outings with Navy and know they must make adjustments in order to beat a disciplined Navy side. “We missed some opportunities in the mid field,” Hickey said of the last time Clemson faced Navy. “There forward pack is very very strong and you need to get it out the backs and take some direct lines to get over the gain line against them.”

Navy is excited to host a Penn Mutual Varsity Cup match for the second consecutive year. Coach Mike Flanagan indicated that the first two games with Clemson were closer than the score indicated and is excited for the advantage of playing at home.

“I am glad we are at home. They are tough, they are solid at all phases and we are going to have our hands full. I think it is hard to beat a team three times. We are really going to use this week to really prepare for these guys and see what happens next.”

Navy emphasized possession would most likely be the biggest factor in determining a winner. Both teams rely heavily on strong forward packs, so maintaining ball possession and winning the breakdown will be crucial in this matchup.

“We are going to have to win first phase possession, and keep them from getting first phase possession,” added Flanagan. “It is a double edged sword. We have to get ours and keep it and spoil there’s.”

Both Navy and Clemson are coming off tight first round games. Clemson upset Arkansas State at home 26-22 while Navy squeaked by Dartmouth 23-22. This game should prove to be another tight affair.