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USA Rugby names trophy after former UA coach Dave Sitton


Photo courtesy of Arizona Wildcat Rugby

USA Rugby honored the memory of former UA rugby head coach Dave Sitton by naming the Men’s Division I Most Valuable Player Award for the 2013 USA Rugby College 7s National Championship in his honor.

Club Vice President and fundraising chair Jacob Haebe said he is excited about the new Dave Sitton Memorial Trophy.

“This [trophy] speaks to how much of an impact he had on the game, as well as to all the players who played with and under Dave Sitton,” Haebe said. “It will be great for his memory.”

Sitton died of a pulmonary embolism on Aug. 12 at the age of 58. He coached UA Rugby from 1978-2013 and compiled a record of 400-212-12 in his 35 years as the team’s head coach. In addition, Sitton played four years of rugby at the UA.

“Dave was a personal friend of mine during those years and was a special proponent of all things rugby — from the novice player to the gifted athlete,” said USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez in a press release. “With this award, perhaps we can remember that excellence is an objective worthy of a lifelong quest.”

The trophy will be presented at the 2013 College 7s National Championships, which will be held from Nov. 23-24 in Greensboro, N.C., with 48 teams competing.

“Coach Sitton is undoubtedly going to be in the Rugby Hall of Fame, and his achievements and success as a rugby coach are legendary,” said senior UA rugby player Jack Arnold, who was the recruiting director last season. “But what he did as a coach is what set him apart. He devoted countless hours to the team; no single man could accomplish what coach Sitton did for us.”

Tyson Swetnam played club rugby at Arizona for Sitton and was a member of Sitton’s coaching staff for a decade. Swetnam assumed the role of interim head coach after Sitton’s death.

“He was a father figure to a lot of us,” Swetnam said. “I played for him for four years and he was the guy we all looked up to. We wanted to play well for him.”

Swetnam said he is trying hard to fill the void left by Sitton’s death.

“It’s tough — Dave did a lot of the managerial things for our club,” Swetnam said. “He didn’t really leave us a handbook of all the things that he did, so it’s been a little bit of research to figure out how he got everything done the way he did.”

Sitton was also a broadcaster of Arizona football and basketball games from 1990-2012 and an activist in the community. The Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce named Sitton its Man of the Year in 2006.

— Follow Roberto Payne @RPsportreporter

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