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ASU rugby team heads west for Sweet 16 in USA Rugby Tournament playoffs

April 13, 2010 -- Arkansas State University’s men’s rugby team will travel to Santa Barbara, Calif., this week to join seven other schools to play in the Sweet 16 of the Division 1 USA Rugby Tournament playoffs. The tournament is slated for Friday-Sunday, April 16-18, at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

ASU, 6-1 overall, will play St. Mary’s of Moraga, Calif., Saturday, April 17, at 3 p.m. (Central), in Harder Stadium in the first round.  The winner will advance to play San Diego State or Bowling Green.

“St. Mary’s is extremely good,” said first-year ASU head coach Matt Huckaby. “They are a powerhouse and among the very best in the country. They are probably among the top two or three teams.”

ASU, 6-1 overall, joins St. Mary’s, SDSU and Bowling Green in the “C” pool, which is known by the website,, as “the Pool of the Death.” Other teams participating in the Santa Barbara field include Brigham Young, Delaware, Syracuse and Arizona. All pool winners will advance to the championship Final Four to be played at Stanford University, Friday-Saturday, April 30-May 1.

“It’s a shame we have to meet in the same pool in the playoffs, because all four schools have the capability to be in the Final Four,” said Huckaby.

Arkansas State enters the national playoff bracket as the South’s top seed for the third straight year after knocking off Tennessee, 35-14, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., March 28. St. Mary’s earned its way after beating California-Davis, 41-19, a couple of weeks ago to secure the Pacific third seed.

Currently, the Red Wolves are ranked fourth by and fifth overall in the Top 25 poll. Both sites list the ASU-St. Mary’s matchup as the “game to watch.”

The remaining eight teams in the other half of the Sweet 16 bracket are Penn State, LSU, UCLA, and California. Those four will challenge for the right to advance to the national championship at Life University in Marietta, Ga., this weekend.

“The rugby program wishes to express our gratitude to the administration at ASU for its help and support,” continued Huckaby. “The offices of International Programs and Residence Life have offered considerable sponsorship. It’s nice to know the university has our back; it allows the team to focus wholeheartedly on the task at hand.”

After a move to Division 1 two years ago, ASU won the South Collegiate Championships two years in a row, finishing 11th in the nation in 2008 and fourth in 2009. The Red Wolves’ only losses were to a pair of  nationally-ranked squads--San Diego State in 2008 and to LSU in the fall of 2009--and to eventual national champion Brigham Young in the Elite Eight in the spring of 2009.

Pictured above:  ASU earned top seed in South division after defeating Tennessee, 35-14, March 28.

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