CATS FINISH IN CUP SEMIS AT COLLEGIATE RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Kyle Rogers and his fellow seniors concluded their Arizona careers this weekend with a deep run in the CRC, leading the Cats to their third semifinal in four years. (Photo credit: Jack Megaw)
June 7- Arizona concluded their season this past weekend in Philadelphia, making a deep run in the 2018 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship before falling in the cup semifinals.
The Wildcats earned the #2 overall seed heading in to the knockout stages, winning their pool with a 3-0 record and drawing Iona in a cup quarterfinal. The Gaels showed some great tenacity and made the Wildcats work hard in the first few minutes before Dante Weeks' try and a Matt Rogers score gave them a 12-0 halftime lead. The second half saw the Cats aim to hold the lead and it was their bench that made an impact as Jon Rogers touched down to end the game and punch their ticket to the cup semifinal with a 17-0 victory.
In the cup semifinal, a great start by the Wildcats featured tries from Ben Scoular and Zach Heisterkamp to give them a 10-0 lead before a strong UCLA end to the half sent the teams in to the break 10-12. A crucial moment in the match was a controversial yellow card on Kyle Rogers on a restart, with the Bruins taking advantage and scoring to make it 10-19 late in the match. A final UCLA try meant that it would be the Bruins advancing to the cup final, ending the season for the strong Sevens side. Head Coach Sean Duffy stressed the great steps the players and team had made in bouncing back from last year's event. "First off I'm so proud of the team, especially the seniors. People don't realize how hard camp is in preparation for this event and to bounce back to the cup semifinal after last year validates a lot of what we're doing" said Duffy "we know we have the athletes to take the next step, and this was important in us re-establishing ourselves as contenders in this country."
Arizona ends the year as one of the top Sevens programs in the country, having won the PAC Conference Sevens title for the first time and placing two players on the CRC all tournament team in Matt Rogers and Dante Weeks. The graduating seniors now head on to their post-college careers with a few hoping to continue their sport. "I just hope the seniors know how much we appreciate their work, not just the Sevens boys but all of them. They're my first class I signed and they've set such a high bar for our future classes to follow" said Duffy.
The CRC draws to a close a highly successful year for the program, featuring a top ten finish in Fifteens, the return of their touring tradition started by Dave Sitton as they embarked to Argentina, the welcoming of Nike to their team, and the hosting of Fiji Sevens training camp on campus. Arizona welcomes a large recruiting class this Fall to replace their graduating seniors, with over two dozen incoming freshmen set to report mid-August for the start of training camp.
CUP QUARTERFINAL vs IONA
Arizona 17-0 Iona
Tries: Weeks, M. Rogers, J. Rogers
Conv: M. Rogers- 1/2, J. Rogers- 0/1
CUP SEMIFINAL vs UCLA
Arizona 10-26 UCLA
Tries: Scoular, Heisterkamp
Conv: Eldridge- 0/2