ASU Rugby Club begins 2012 year

By Ashley Helliwell
On February 9, 2012

Ranked third in the nation, the ASU Rugby team is setting high standards for its 2012 season.

"We are pushing for a national championship and will continue to do so every year," said head coach Matt Huckaby.

The Red Wolves 2011 season was filled with highs and lows, but the road to the national championship began in Jonesboro.

The pack took home a huge victory against long time rival Life University, 25-19, exposing the level of intensity needed to achieve its goal of a national championship.

In 13 years the University of Tennessee had never lost to the Red Wolves on its home soil, but just when all had seemed to be lost, ASU broke the long standing history, taking a win from the Vols territory.

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame experienced its first loss to the Red Wolves, with the final whistle blowing on a Red Wolf victory of 70-21.

The pack played its last game in the semifinals of the College Premiere Division against Brigham Young University.

The Cougars defeated the Red Wolves 36 to 15 to move on to the CPD National Championship.

"There was a different attitude out of the guys at the BYU game, they came out of that game with more confidence, " Huckaby said.

This year the program added a 7's team, which was in response to the official word of Rugby 7s being recognized as a new Olympic sport for the 2016 Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The team competed in the first college 7s National Championship and ended taking third in the nation.

With the confidence gained and the momentum of the program being nationally recognized, the 2012 15's season is sure to be another successful season for the Red Wolves.

The new addition to the pack is assistant coach, Alex Houser.

Houser has won four Division One National Championships at the University of Berkeley where he played and graduated.

"Alex is extremely well versed in strength and conditioning, and has taken the team to a whole different level with the Olympic lifts, as well as his knowledge of coaching defense and attacking," Huckaby said.

This season the team is not as deep with substitutions, and has lost three strong competitors - Raon Farr, Roland Evans and Paul Raath, but Huckaby is confident in the ability of the younger players to step up and take on those roles as leaders.

"The team chemistry has been outstanding, you can see that the younger guys are wanting to step up and create a program that does have high standards and expectations," said Senior Danie Swanepoel.

The Red Wolves will open this Saturday against the University of Arkansas at 1 p.m. at the Rugby Pitch, located in-between the railroad tracks on Caraway Rd.

"We should beat them convincingly, but the score board is not going to be our main focus," Huckaby said.

This weekends match against the U of A will be more focused on technique, ball possession and tackles missed verses tackles made; as well as evaluating players and possibly future starters.

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