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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA rugby opens season

Coming off of his first season with Arizona, UA rugby head coach Sean Duffy is looking forward to another successful year with the Wildcats.

Arizona rugby finished second in the Division I Double AA Nationals last spring, and as a result, the team has been promoted to Division I A.

“Winning has been a good recruiting tool for the team,” Duffy said.

For the fall semester, the rugby team has 21 new recruits. In that group, there are two All-American freshmen and rugby players from Australia, England and New Zealand.

In addition to the diverse group of new players, there have been a few additions to the coaching staff as well.

UA alumnus Patrick Coco has returned to the UA to be an assistant coach. Coco most recently led the University of New Mexico’s rugby team to the 2013-14 Rio Grande Collegiate Championship. Coco is a former rugby player who played under legendary UA rugby coach Dave Sitton.

Peter Savage is also a new assistant coach coming to the UA from Australia. Savage has experience coaching at the semiprofessional level in France and high school-level rugby in Australia.

Finally, Andy Katoa will be overseeing the UA sevens rugby program this year as an assistant coach. Katoa joined the coaching staff at the end of the rugby season last May. He is currently the Tonga National Rugby Union Team’s head coach and will return to the UA later this semester to resume coaching.

Since August, the rugby team has been preparing for its preseason matches this fall semester. This weekend will be the team’s first fifteens match of the year against ASU.

Last year, on the 45th Anniversary of the UA’s rugby program and naming of the Dave Sitton Field, the UA beat the Sun Devils 51-38.

“We have been focusing on the little things leading up to our first game,” Duffy said. “Everything we do has been very player-centric.”

In addition to ASU, the UA will host two other home games this semester at Dave Sitton Field against UNM and new rugby program Grand Canyon University.

During the GCU game, Duffy will be coaching against three experienced UA alumni.

Head coach Ryan Kelly, associate head coach Merrick Firestone and assistant coach Adam Muszynski are all UA graduates. Kelly, Firestone and Muszynski all played rugby under Sitton.

“The GCU game will be the first rugby night game at Sitton Field, and we look forward to welcoming GCU and playing them for the first time,” Duffy said.

The first preseason game of the semester will be against ASU on Saturday Oct. 4 at Rincon Vista Sports Complex at 2 p.m. 

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Follow Daniela Vizcarra on Twitter @vizcarra_dw

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