Arizona Rugby makes Sweet 16 - Tucson News Now

Arizona Rugby makes Sweet 16

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by Kendra Kautz

TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona Rugby earned a spot in the Sweet 16 National Championships finishing their season 8-4.  

It's been three years since the Arizona's fifteens squad has made it to the post season. Arizona's last sweet 16 appearance was successful, beating Syracuse in Santa Barbara then moving on to the Elite 8 where they fell short to BYU.

This weekend the Wildcat's will be hosting three other schools including Western Washington, Long Beach State and Chico State.  

Western Washington will compete against Chico at 11 a.m. and Arizona will play Long Beach for a 1 p.m. start on Saturday at Rincon Vista.  

Arizona men's rugby head coach Dave Sitton goes way back with coaches of the Western Washington team so he's looking forward to the weekend.  

The Western Washington head coach, Paul Horne, coached the Canadian team when Sitton was coaching the United States team back in the 90's.  The team manager for Washington, Jeff Lombard, was a U.S. player when Sitton was involved in the National program, as well.  

With the long standing bond between these coaches it will be interesting to watch the teams match up for the first time if both find success on Saturday but first Arizona needs to focus on Long Beach State.  

"There was a tremendous rivalry between Arizona and Long Beach State years ago then Long Beach State actually went down a division and their coming back up," said Sitton.  "Their coach Quinn has turned the program around and it's a very strong Southern California program again."  

He continued.  "They have a very strong pack and their back line is capable of attacking but their defense is a little bit lazy. We are just going to have to play a very intense and fast paced game on Saturday and not make mistakes."

Sitton knows that this time of year, like NCAA basketball, anyone can win on any given day.  

"We take nothing for granted," he said. "You go back to so many clichés but they're really not clichés they are absolutely the truth, that you have to play each game one at the time and we have to focus our attention right now on playing and defeating Long Beach State, period."

If the team defeats Long Beach and wins the championship Sunday they will be making their way to Bowling Green, Ohio for Elite 8.  

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