With an expanded roster of nearly 100 student athletes, Jack San Pietro and the Wildcats are ready for more matches for their future stars (Photo Credit- Andrew Pillari)
Aug 31- Arizona has made a move for the future today, with their Developmental Side officially joining the Rio Grande Rugby Union for the coming year. The Wildcats, a D1A program, will remain in that competition while their third side will compete in the Division II league against teams from across the southwest.
This move comes on the heels of aggressive recruitment campaigns the past few years, with nearly 100 players currently in the program and the slate of both Fall and Spring matches one that will help young players to grow. While the Wildcats will not pursue the conference's nationals berth in Division II, they will take on the likes of growing programs, including UTEP, New Mexico, New Mexico State, New Mexico Tech, and others. These matches will augment their already regular appointments with local teams Arizona State and Grand Canyon, providing more Rugby for more players early in the year. Head Coach Sean Duffy was thrilled to make this announcement, citing months of work with Rio Grande Commissioner Delbert Arnold and conference coaches to make this unique setup a reality. "We're delighted that the coaches of the conference and Delbert Arnold were open to our idea on this, and our boys are excited to have some games in both Fall and Spring" said Duffy. Commissioner Arnold welcomed the move, as he continues to work to grow partnerships across the country to benefit the burgeoning conference. "We're happy to welcome the Wildcats and we feel this is a move to help develop the sport in our area of the country where more and more programs, clubs, and players are stepping to the plate to back this sport" said Arnold.
The move is not unprecedented for the Wildcats, as their history of having a large program dates back to the days under Coach William David Sitton. In growing the roster back to full strength, the Wildcats are re-igniting a tradition from their past with obvious eyes on the future. "These matches will be aimed at predominantly players who are in our program and looking to work their way in to the varsity pool" said Duffy "in addition, this will provide coach development for our staff, something that helped me as a young coach that I hope to pass on to our team" said Duffy.
The Wildcats' Fall schedule will be announced Monday, with their first foray in to Rio Grande Rugby taking place next Saturday at UTEP.