CATS WIN BIG IN SPECIAL WEEKEND ON CAMPUS
#9 Arizona 69
Arizona State 20
Ryan Hudson and Matt Rogers took down ASU and then took on Fiji in Sevens in wild weekend of Rugby. (Photo credit: Nikki Adams)
February 26- Arizona Rugby's showcase weekend was a resounding success this past weekend as #9 Arizona took down Arizona State 69-20 to move to 4-1 on the year. The weekend featured a number of aspects, including the 49th Anniversary of the program and the hosting of Fiji Sevens training camp in a jam-packed three days.
With the Wildcats hoping to close in on their third straight berth to the D1A playoffs, the Wildcats got started right, with Dante Weeks scoring the first of four on the day and a Karl Steffany score making it 26-13 at half. While happy to be ahead, Head Coach Sean Duffy was disappointed in the overall efficiency of the first half. "We needed better. We got it thanks to our leaders stepping up" said Duffy. In the second half, the Wildcats began to claim the upper hand in the Forwards, with their set piece putting the Sun Devils on the back foot regularly. Tyler Hansen was one of the beneficiaries of this platform, scoring twice and helping Sinclair Clinton score one of his own to make it 50-20 with twenty minutes left after Ryan Hudson's try and Bronson Teles' first score of the year. In a fitting end to the day, Prop Hector Ramirez barreled in for a try in his first career start to clinch the 69-20 victory and put Arizona on great footing heading in to their South American tour this week.
Arizona Second XV kept up the tempo in their match and also returned to the win column, with a 41-0 lead at half on the back of two George Niethammer tries. Luke Thayer's hat-trick and a double by Kyle Fulton made the Northern California presence felt in the 74-5 victory for Arizona. The 143-25 scoreline across both matches was an emphatic return to wins for the program that now looks ahead to a challenging two game tour in Argentina. "Thrilled for the guys, especially those who stepped up after some down performances last week" said Duffy. "Full credit to Arizona State as they fought for 160 minutes and at no point did they quit. They battled in the scrums in both games, especially in that second side match."
Following the match, the rich history of the program was on full display at the 2nd Annual Hall of Fame Celebration, with Brad Cox being inducted in to the hall of fame and scores of alumni and family on hand to celebrate. This event followed Friday's Dave Sitton Strong & Tough Golf Tournament, the 19th year of the showcase golf event.
On Sunday, the current Wildcats and the Tucson community were treated to a special experience, scrimmaging Fiji Sevens in the culmination of their week as hosts for the Flying Fijians. Following the scrimmage, Fiji Sevens players and staff ran a youth and high school clinic for the community, giving back to the city and its residents with their expertise and some trademark Fiji flair. The 2016 Olympic gold medalists spent their week in Tucson, training at the university grounds and working together with the Arizona players and coaches as they prepare for the US leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series this coming weekend in Las Vegas.
The Wildcats will now pack their bags for another special experience, as they depart Wednesday night for Argentina, spending ten days in the South American Rugby powerhouse with matches lined up in Buenos Aires and Mar Del Plata. Following the tour, Arizona closes out the regular season with tough California Conference matches at home against #13 San Diego State and Cal Poly.
Scoring vs Arizona State
Arizona 69-20 Arizona State
Tries: 11- Weeks (4), Hansen (2), Steffany,
Clinton, Hudson, Teles, Ramirez
Conv: Grigoriou- 7/11
Scoring vs Arizona State Second XV
Arizona 74-5 Arizona State
Tries: 12- Thayer (3), Niethammer (2),
Fulton (2), Kerr, Thomas, Rohde, Eldridge,
Conv: Thayer- 7/12
Kyle Rogers and Zach Heisterkamp on attack against Fiji on Sunday. (Photo credit: Robyn Diamond)