Weekend match brings chance for bid to nationals
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 17:09
On Sept. 29, Arkansas State Rugby’s 7s club will step onto Florida State’s rugby field in Tallahassee, Fla. and give it everything they have. This is more than an away game.
“This weekend we are going to compete to win the qualifier that gets us an automatic bid to the National Championships in December,” center Zac Mizell said. “We didn’t get one last year, so we are going to try really hard to this year.”
Harry Higgins, who plays prop for the 7s club said he remembers last year’s loss.
“Last year, we got beat by Life University (Marietta, Ga.), both in the qualifier for nationals and in the semi-final match at nationals. Both games were a draw until the last seconds,” Higgins said. “However, last year is last year and this year, we are fired up and even more dedicated to win it. I believe in my teammates and honestly think we can win Nationals. We came so close last year.”
On Sept. 15, the team competed in the Battle of the Stones River 7s tournament held by Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Red Wolves two teams, A-side and B-side, took first and second place in the tournament.
“The overall fitness, athleticism and ball handling skill work was great for this time of year,” head coach Matt Huckaby said. “That was really a warm-up game to knock the rust off, but we need to tighten up our defense, it needs to be faster and harder. We need to put more pressure on teams and we need to solidify our restarts, set pieces and back line moves a lot better. We just need to clean them up.”
Although winning a spot to the national championship game is the outcome the team wants, Huckaby said there are aspects within the team he hopes to achieve throughout the season.
“We have a lot of new guys who we need to get plugged into our system,” Huckaby said. “We will lose a lot of guys after this year, so we really want to work a lot on passing the torch and the standards. Every year we try to get better as a team, as a culture within the team and just keep pushing that standard up.”
Wing and center Dean Gericke said he has faith in the team’s ability to pass the torch.
“We have a lot of depth,” Gericke said. “If we sub someone in, they can still keep things going smooth. We definitely have more depth as a team than we did last year.”
If team wins this weekends’s tournament, they will gain an automatic bid to the championship game that will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
“Our first goal is to get a bid this weekend,” Mizell said. “After that, win the national championship. We shouldn’t expect anything else.”