St. Mary’s has had an outstanding rugby team for several years, now.
Despite losing some excellent talent (Kevin Swiryn, for one), over the years, they have been able to rebuild and challenge the best in the college game.
But the Gaels have not made the final four of college rugby since 2008 – and even then it took a dramatic comeback against Kutztown to pull it off.
And the team that has stood in their way the last two times has been Arkansas State.
In 2010, ASU beat St. Mary’s in the D1 Round of 16 29-23 in Santa Barbara. That was a hotly-contested match that featured at least one disputed non-try (St. Mary’s thought they had scored, but didn’t get the call).
In 2011, St. Mary’s, as the D1-A Pacific runners up, traveled to Jonesboro, Ark. and lost 30-17 in the rate (see highlights here).
The Gaels, therefore, have some unfinished business.
“You can bet they’re geared up,” said ASU Head Coach Matt Huckaby.
“We are very excited to play Arkansas State again,” said St. Mary’s captain Andrew Cook. “To play them at home is great, as well. We know it’s going to be a great game. We remember playing them before, for sure.”
“Arkansas State is a really well-coached team, with well-trained athletes, and they’ve beaten us the last couple of years,” added St. Mary’s Head Coach Tim O’Brien. “Last time we ran really well when we had the ball, but they got up on us. I think both teams felt like they could have done more. I know we will have to improve our execution – but the guys are excited for the game.”