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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Round of Eight main goal for rugby

Rodney Haas Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rodney Haas
Rodney Haas Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona men’s rugby team is one win away from advancing to College Rugby’s Round of Eight.

On Friday, No. 8 seed Arizona will play No. 9 seed Syracuse at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Harder Stadium in College Rugby’s Sweet Sixteen at 5 p.m. It is the Wildcats’ first appearance since 2000.

Playing Syracuse and other unfamiliar teams in the collegiate national tournament will pose a challenge to the current No. 10 or No. 12 Wildcats, according to American Rugby News and Rugby Magazine, respectively.

“”We’re going to see how good our league really is playing a team from the Northeast,”” said head coach Dave Sitton. “”Syracuse is very big. We’re going to have to play quicker and be smarter with the ball. We’re all about speed.””

Regardless of the challenge, senior fullback Tim Moxness and the team are confident they can play, and win, against the likes of Syracuse and defending national champion BYU in the tournament.

“”I think we have a good chance (to win),”” Moxness said. “”This has been the best team I’ve been a part of in the four years I’ve been here.””

Arizona is favored to beat Syracuse and Rugby Magazine is predicting Arizona to come out victorious, crediting the momentum the Wildcats have built in league play this spring.

In its last two outings, Arizona has posted back-to-back wins with a combined 22 tries and 126 points to only seven allowed.

Arizona will look to its improved fast break to get things going offensively by keeping the ball in hand. If the Wildcats can maintain possession and pass the ball as effectively as they have in the past two games, they should have offensive success.

Though Syracuse is said to have a great defense, UA’s senior eight Patrick Canterbury believes the team will do well.

“”I have a very good feeling we can beat Syracuse,”” Canterbury said. “”(We can) put up some big points.””

A win would likely set up a game with No. 1 seed BYU on Saturday. If Arizona were to lose to Syracuse, it will play in a consolation game on Saturday.

Rather than playing for a national title, the Wildcats would play for conference points in the consolation game, which determines seeds for next year’s tournament. This year, Arizona is joined by fellow conference teams UCLA and San Diego State in the tournament.

“”It’s a great tribute to the young coaches in our league,”” Sitton said. “”It’s such a good league.

“”(A consolation game) is nice for the guys,”” he added. “”You can give everybody minutes (so they) can enjoy playing the game. The games mean something.””

However, Arizona and its head coach have no intentions of losing.

“”If we play our best game, I think we’ll win,”” Sitton said. “”Syracuse is good, and we’re good. It’s an exciting time of year.”” 

Wildcats invited to inaugural USA Sevens Collegiate Championships

Arizona is one of 16 rugby teams selected to participate in the inaugural event by USA Sevens and NBC Sports.

Arizona will hold tryouts after completion of its postseason and select a 12-man team.

The tournament will take place on June 4-6.

“”It’s a great honor,”” Sitton said. “”I’m pretty excited about it.””

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