CATS FINALIZE 2023 SIGNINGS
Daniel Lopez brings both fifteens and sevens experience to the Arizona backs.
July 13- The Wildcats have rounded out their 2023 signings today with the announcement of an athletic group of outside backs that will join the program this Fall. This third wave of players joins the recently committed forwards and inside backs that will make up the 20-player group.
Dating back to the days prior to Rugby’s explosion at the youth and high school level, Arizona Rugby has a history of bringing in some fantastic crossover athletes. The latest, Tyler Montgomery, has made the jump from a highly competitive baseball career. The 6-2 200 Wing/Center has excelled for Laguna Beach Rugby Club (CA), bringing a blend of athleticism and helping the side win this year’s Southern California Sevens Championship.
Local product Max Rhodes gives the Wildcats another dynamic option in the backs that can cover in a number of positions. Rhodes joins the Wildcats after a successful career in both Washington and Arizona, most recently with the Phoenix Firebirds, helping them to a state championship while winning player of the year in the process. The 6-2 Center/Wing will also look to contribute in Sevens.
At Fullback, Daniel Lopez makes for the latest from the Pacific Northwest to make the move to the desert, bringing both club and regional experience across the backline. The Fullback/Flyhalf helped captain Chuckanut Rugby Club (WA) this past season and has also earned all-state honors for the Washington Loggers program. Another Sevens standout, he helped the Loggers finish third at the Vancouver Sevens in 2022. Alongside Lopez at Fullback is another Louisiana signing as Otto Hirstius joins his teammate Andrew Newell from New Orleans Jesuit. Hirstius paired with Newell to help drive their side to the last two state championships, and looks to continue that form for the Wildcats. Last but not least at Fullback Kieran Quinn makes the short trek to Tucson from San Diego, making him the latest from Cathedral Catholic High School to choose Arizona. Quinn brings a decorated resume to the Wildcats, having earned all-league last season while helping Cathedral to their third league title in his career.
The outside backs group joins a highly competitive squad, with key players such as USA Falcon Jacob Broselle and standout Fullback Matteo Berenger amongst the several returners. The program returns over 90% of the roster from last season’s team that finished top ten in Fifteens and top six in Sevens. Off-field, the program has moved into their own training center and added rugby scholarships for the first time in program history following a $1 million gift to the program. “This outside backs group has a lot of high-ceiling guys that we are excited about” said Director of Rugby Sean Duffy. “Scouting is important, and we need to scout hard to find the best fits for what we want to build. We’ve had some great success with under the radar prospects like Dante Weeks and Kyle Fulton that have truly helped us move the program and the culture forward. I know there are guys like that in this class and it’s the success of our current athletes that helps us keep bringing some incredible people to Tucson. Can’t wait to get started.”
The Wildcats’ schedule will be announced shortly with 70+ athletes ready to get the 55th season underway.