Tucson,Ariz- Aftersplitting the last weekend of PAC Conference play, the Arizona Wildcats willhost a double header on the final weekend of the season. Arizona will play NewMexico State University and the University of Texas – El Paso on Saturday inback-to-back games.
Both games will be played on theRincon Vista Rugby Pitch. Arizona – NewMexico State kicks off at 1:00. Arizona-Texas El Paso begins at 2:45.
"We need to get as many minutesas possible this weekend so we are splitting our squad," Arizona Head CoachDave Sitton said. "We had planned on doing this all season. With our numbers,we like to give our young players the chance to play with our most veteranplayers whenever possible. This weekend we will split the varsity team in half.And our JVs will be elevated to play in each of those games. Both will beconsidered varsity games and both will go on our record."
New Mexico State and UTEP areboth smaller schools that will be traveling to Tucson for the double-header.With both schools within decent traveling distance, they may be looked to moreoften for matches.
"We're hoping to build a greatrelationship with New Mexico State and Texas – El Paso," Sitton said. "Bothteams are within a short bus ride of our campus and otherwise, it is ArizonaState and San Diego State that provide us our closest collegiate competition.
"New Mexico State (7-4) andArizona used to have a regular series, but they have gone through severalcoaching changes. Over time we have not been able to keep the series alive, butwe would like to have a fall and spring contest with them every year.
"Texas – El Paso (0-4) is a veryyoung program. Own of their mentors is a former opponent of mine for many yearsand the father of our own Jack Arnold, Delbert Arnold."
Arizona is entering Saturday witha 6-4 record (2-3 in PAC Conference). The Wildcats will have the chance to makeit eight wins on the season with a sweep. The two wins could also go a long waytowards helping the Wildcats secure a trip to the postseason.
The Wildcats arrived at the sixwin mark with a victory over Oregon State in a hard fought game that wentback-and-forth. Arizona trailed by as many as thirteen, but was able to surgeback and take the lead. The Beavers made a late push, but a knock on at the tryline ended the game, securing the victory for the Wildcats.
"A double up PAC weekend remindsus of the days when we were in the Southern California Conference and we usedto do this all the time," Sitton said. "It is very difficult to have collegeage athletes play as hard as Oregon State did on Friday against ASU and asArizona did against UCLA and have the same energy level on Sunday.
"I want to compliment both OregonState and Arizona for their effort today. Both teams gave everything that wasleft and you can tell by the close score. Arizona was able to make a couple breakaways. It would have been nice tohave Andrew Matyas, but these are the things that we need."
Arizona is expected to hear from USA Rugby next Sunday if theywill advance with an at large berth.. With a pair of non conference gamesto play, the ‘Cats have a 6 – 4 record. What is noticed is that four ofArizona's six wins have been achieved against schools ranked in the top twenty.
"We are hoping to hear from USA Rugby in the next few days,"Sitton said. "If not, then we will know by Sunday for sure. We have had adifficult schedule, with four of our six wins to date being over rankedopponents and all four of our losses coming that way as well. With theexception of the University of California, it is difficult to find a scheduleas tough as ours."
Arizona is one of the twentyschools that will compete in the Fourth Collegiate Rugby Championship inPhiladelphia. The nationally televisedtournament will be seen on NBC Sport June 1 and 2. Arizona finished runner up to Dartmouth inthe 2012 event.
Fullback Ryan Matyas, flankerJonathon Weisiger, and Center Mark Watson – all starters are out this weekend.
With the sweep on Saturday,Arizona coach Dave Sitton would pull within one victory of the highly soughtafter 400 win mark. Over his 35 year run as Arizona coach.Sitton played four years at Arizona and has been a member of the team since1974. His record stands at 397-211-12.
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