Arizona rugby fifteens squad is done, sevens season next
Arizona Rugby hosted the Sweet 16 West Regional tournament this weekend and defeated Chico State 37-5 Sunday, but lost its advancing match to Long Beach State Saturday in the final minute, 22-17.
Arizona appeared to have the first game in the bag but the last fourth of the match was taken into Long Beach State’s hands, resulting in a huge Wildcat let down.
The ‘Cats started strong and scored a try in the first ten minutes with the ball touched down by senior hooker Craig Samoy. Samoy went on to score another for the team in the start of the second half as well. Arizona didn’t execute their kicking game or field positioning which caught up with them in the second half. Long Beach State capitalized on Arizona’s slowing of pace and scored three unanswered tries, one being in the final 30 seconds of the match.
“They played harder in the last 20 minutes than we did,” said Arizona head coach Dave Sitton. “They played smarter and they executed in the last 20 minutes. Long Beach State made plays. Arizona did not and that’s why Long Beach State won.”
After the match Sitton commented on how each player’s mindset was key for success or failure.
“One of the things about a rugby match and coaching players at this level is that they make their own decisions,” said Sitton. “Tomorrow the Wildcats will come out and if they play well tomorrow it’s because they made the decision to do so and if they don’t play well tomorrow, it’s their decision as well.”
The next day against Chico State, Arizona decided to turn it on and end the weekend on a positive note.
Twenty minutes in, Arizona was up 19-0, two of the three tries coming from freshman flyhalf Ryan Matyas. The success continued for Matyas, who put another one away with ten left in the half. Junior center Jack Arnold kicked one through the uprights for Arizona, ending the half 27-0.
In the second half the team kept up its pressure game and only let one get by them as Chico State put five points on the scoreboard. Arizona eight-man Nick Svob ended it with his second try of the match in the last two minutes to make it a 37-5 victory.
“We executed better today with the ball, didn’t turn over the ball as often as we did yesterday – still it’s a major problem for us,” said Sitton. “One thing we did today for about 70 of the 80 minutes was take the space.”
Now, as the fifteens team have finished their season 9-5 and with a solid win they can make the positive transition into sevens season.
The Rugby team is looking for others to join their sevens squad as they will be holding their first ever open tryout.
“We know there are some tremendous student-athletes on this campus that don’t play football that don’t do this or run track or whatever or they think they are retired and we have an Olympic shot for them,” said Sitton. “So that’s pretty exciting stuff. Anybody that dreams about playing for an Olympic spot on NBC TV in a tackle football game – we are the place to go.”
Tryouts will take place on Tuesday, April 30, 3 to 5 p.m. at Rincon Vista Pitch.