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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Ruggers embark on high-powered weekend schedule

    Just when the Arizona men’s club rugby team needed a break, it didn’t get one.

    Coming off a disappointing ninth-place finish in the inaugural Pacific-10 Conference tournament two weeks ago and a tough 36-20 loss at the University of California-San Diego last weekend, the Wildcats (3-2, 0-1 SoCal Conference) open their home conference schedule today against two of the most dominant rugby powerhouses in their conference.

    The Wildcats will face No. 8 UC-Santa Barbara (4-2, 2-0) at 4 p.m. at Estevan Park and will meet up with No. 13 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (7-0, 1-0) at the same location Sunday at 1 p.m.

    The Ruggers will play the tough competition without the services of their captain and senior flyhalf Mark Gallo, who possibly tore an ACL in his left knee. They are also without senior prop Dan Glad, junior eight Matt Wagoner and sophomore flanker Matt Seward.

    “”We need every one of them,”” Arizona head coach Dave Sitton said. “”All are starters.””

    Both UCSB and Cal Poly have recently held the top spot of the SoCal Conference, while Arizona must start its climb out of the cellar after its poor showing at San Diego.

    “”If we eliminate our bizarre play and stop contributing to our opponents’ efforts with unforced errors, we can turn this season around on a dime,”” Sitton said.

    The Gauchos are coming off a season in which they made it to the Sweet Sixteen, and head coach Kevin Battle has led them to four straight national tournament appearances. In 2004, the Mustangs were even more impressive, sweeping the SoCal Conference en route to a national championship game loss to Air Force.

    “”They may not be very big schools, but both are powerful rugby institutions,”” Sitton said. “”They both have an abundance of outstanding athletes, and they are well drilled.””

    The series against the Gauchos is split 14-14, but the Wildcats are winless in their last three efforts dating back to 2003, when Arizona pulled off an upset. The Gauchos come to Tucson coming off a 28-5 spanking last week at San Diego State.

    Cal Poly missed the playoffs last year, due in large part to having four key players suspended for most of the season. This year the improved Mustangs have outscored their opponents by an average of 30 points in their first three contests.

    Cal Poly leads the all-time series 15-12-1, including a whopping 62-8 victory last year.

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