SUCCESSFUL TOUR SOUTH FOR WILDCATS
Arizona will look to use last week's Argentina tour for their upcoming stretch run of the season.
March 16- Arizona Rugby resumed a very special tradition this past week, traveling down to Argentina for a week long tour of the South American nation.
Arizona landed in Buenos Aires with a quick turnaround following their 69-20 victory over Arizona State, taking on Olivos Rugby Club. Scrumhalf Matt Rogers, a standout all season thus far, broke the line and found Flanker Riley Kerr who set up fellow Flanker Zach Heisterkamp for the try in the fourth minute, a great start to the tour for the visitors. Two converted tries by the hosts put the Wildcats in a hole before it was Rogers who touched down, set up by Fullback Kyle Rogers to make it 14-12 going in to the break. In the second half, a long Dante Weeks try gave the Wildcats their first lead as Center Luke Thayer converted to make it 19-14. Two tries by Olivos in the back and forth game made it 24-19 before a Thayer penalty got the Cats within striking distance with twenty minutes to play at 24-22. A 64th minute try made it 29-22 for Olivos which the Wildcats responded to well, working their way down into Olivos territory but it was the hosts who locked things up, scoring in the 80th minute to make it 36-22 and hand the Wildcats their second loss of the season. Arizona Second XV also dropped their tour opener, falling 55-5 to Olivos Second XV. "Proud of our guys for fighting it out in a playoff-like atmosphere, and thankful to Olivos for hosting us to start our tour" said Head Coach Sean Duffy.
MAR DEL PLATA
The Wildcats continued by moving further south, heading to beautiful Mar Del Plata for the second match, taking on Mar Del Plata Rugby Club looking for their first win of tour. As they started in Buenos Aires, the Wildcats got off to a strong start, with Fullback Dante Weeks breaking tackles on a Mar Del Plata kick error nine minutes in to make it 5-0 for the visitors. In a physical match with both teams threatening, it was the hosts who touched down 26 minutes in to make it 7-5 and scored later in the half to make it 14-5. Led by their captains Kyle Rogers and Sean Coleman, the Wildcats set out to make amends in the second half, roaring to a a 19-0 scoreline on the backs of two Dante Weeks tries sandwiched around a score from Rogers, earning them a 24-14 victory to end the tour 1-1. Weeks' hat trick in game two and four tries overall earned him Tour Most Valuable Player, with the speedster's talents continuing to show why he's one of the nation's best. "This tour, and specifically this game in Mar Del Plata ticked off a lot of boxes we had to check. Our guys had to battle back, our impact reserves were called upon and played well, and key guys for us like Dante Weeks and Kyle Rogers continue to show why they're some of the top players in the country. We have the best captains in the country and that showed this week" said Duffy "A huge thank you to Varsity Sport and Educational Tours and Agustin Olton for creating a fantastic experience for our program, and to our incredibly generous supporters who made this happen for our boys."
The tour marks the first of its kind in almost twenty years for the program, with Arizona Rugby under the leadership of Dave Sitton touring the globe to Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom during his long and successful tenure as Head Coach. The Wildcats' next tour will take place in 2020, with a destination to be determined.
The 10th-ranked Wildcats return home for their final two games of the regular season the next two Saturdays, taking on #15 San Diego State and Cal Poly.
Scoring vs Olivos RC
Arizona 22-36 Olivos
Tries: 3- Heisterkamp, M. Rogers, Weeks
Conv: Thayer- 2/3
Pen: Thayer- 1/1
Scoring vs Mar Del Plata RC
Arizona 24-14 Mar Del Plata
Tries: 4- Weeks (3), K. Rogers
Conv: Thayer- 2/4
Kyle Rogers and Zach Heisterkamp on attack against Fiji on Sunday. (Photo credit: Robyn Diamond)