New York (VarsityCup.us) - The Varsity Cup is pleased to announce that Arkansas State will be the newest addition to the national championship competition.
For the second time in two years, the Varsity Cup will be expanding. The competition will be moving from a 12-team format to a still undetermined larger tournament. “The Varsity Cup is being very selective in our expansion plans, we want the best performing teams which have established institutional support. Arkansas State is a very good example of this expansion standard,” stated David Smyth, Head Coach of National Champions’ Brigham Young University.
One of US rugby’s finest rugby programs, Arkansas State has made deep runs in the US rugby collegiate post-season over the last six consecutive seasons. The Red Wolves played a thrilling contest in the 2012 National Championship Final, a back and forth affair, before BYU defeated Arkansas State 49-42 for the national championship. Arkansas State is also a highly accomplished sevens team, having won consecutive USA Rugby Championships.
A relatively young program, the Arkansas State rugby team has been operating for 20 years. Over that time, the team has had 18 All-Americans.
Second year coach, Mani Delaibatiki, leads the Red Wolves. A native of Hamilton, New Zealand, Delaibatiki has been playing and coaching rugby for over 20 years and recently left Palmer College of Chiropractic to coach at Arkansas State. He took over the program founded by, Curt Huckaby, whose culmination of hard work and dedication has led to the development of the rugby program.
Due to Huckaby’s vision, Arkansas State University has been highly supportive of the program.
The Red Wolves are taking the next step in their rugby development by joining the Varsity Cup, a decision that was endorsed by the university. “Joining the Varsity Cup was strongly encouraged and supported by the Arkansas State University administrators. As a school, we are excited about this new venture because it gives us an opportunity to compete at the highest level of collegiate rugby, a challenge that we welcome and are excited about being a part of,” continued Delaibatiki.
Although Arkansas State has benefited from its current situation and competition in the USA Rugby post-season, the university determined that it was in the program’s best interest to join the Varsity Cup. Delaibatiki added that, “with the current makeup of the program, Arkansas State fits within the culture of the Varsity Cup and the teams that participate.”
“I have the type of players that know what it takes to compete, and will do all they can to get there. We are excited about this new post-season direction and challenge we are taking come spring 2015.”
With a history of success and campus support, Arkansas State is a strong addition to the Varsity Cup.
About The Varsity Cup Rugby National Championship
The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason national championship. The mission of the Varsity Cup is to grow American rugby by harnessing the collective strength of collegiate rugby and collegiate sport in general. The Varsity Cup features the most recognized and accomplished university rugby programs in the country, vying for the right to be named the collegiate 15s Varsity Cup National Champions.