The University of Arizona Wildcats are one of 20 teams invited to take part in the Fourth USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championships.
Last year, the Wildcats came within one match of the prize. After sweeping through five pool play and quarter and semifinal opponents, Arizona suffered multiple injuries in the championship final, dropping a 21-five decision to Dartmouth in front of a national television audience.
Arizona will compete in Pool B with Penn, Wisconsin, and defending champion Dartmouth. After pool play is completed on Saturday, the five pool winners and three top second place finishers will advance to the championship round of eight.
The Cats open Friday night with Wisconsin. Arizona will take on Penn on Saturday afternoon and take on Dartmouth in a rematch of last year's final.
The tournament will be broadcast on NBC sports network and NBC on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2. On Saturday, NBC sports will feature the Arizona versus Dartmouth rematch set for 12:38 MST.
Since drawing with Army 5-5 in their first-ever CRC match in Columbus, Arizona has won eight straight pool matches in the Collegiate Rugby Championship.
Rugby Sevens is a variation the popular international sport of rugby. Normally played between two teams of 15, seven a side rugby features just seven players, battling for two seven-minute halves, covering a full-sized field. Perhaps it could be described as a tackle track meet.
However described, it is exciting! Seven a side rugby is the form of the game which has been selected for inclusion in the Olympic Games beginning in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Arizona returns five key players to the CRC in 2013. Cody Naber, Jack Arnold, Jake Haebe, Craig Samoy, and Shane Carter will be complemented by US national team player Brett Thompson.
Thompson, who may be the only player to play in all four CRCs since founded in Columbus, Ohio in 2010, just completed a remarkable finish to the HSBC IRB Sevens World Series. The Arizona senior, competing for the United States, scored five tries last weekend helping the USA to an 11th place finish on the 2013 table. That finish allows United States to retain its core status in the series.
Naber, Arnold, Haebe, and Samoy saw extensive action during the 2012 CRC. Carter was on the trip but severely sprained his ankle at practice in Philly and did not see action. He will start at halfback for Arizona.
The Wildcats will introduce seven new players to the CRC including freshman Ryan Matyas. Matyas, who like Brett Thompson was raised in a rugby family, displays explosive speed and could be a second finisher for the fleet-footed Arizona.
Arizona finished its regular season with a 9-5 record. The team was ranked in the top 20, finished third in the new circuit, and was selected for an at-large berth in the national tournament. With great facilities and renowned management, the Wildcats hosted a round of sixteen regional at Murphy Soccer Field April 27 ad 28.
Arizona was one of the founding members of the PAC Rugby Conference. The PAC is comprised of programs representing schools of the Pacific 12 Conference.
In the first year Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon State, UCLA, and Utah took part. For most of the season, five of the conference' six teams were ranked in the top 25. It is expected that
Friday, May 31 Arizona v. Wisconsin 6:00pm EDT NO TV
Wildcats in Pool Play
Saturday, June 1 Arizona v. Penn 1:10pm EDT NO TV
Saturday, June 1 Arizona v. Dartmouth 3:32pm EDT, 12:32 MST NBC
Sunday, June 2 TBA (Brackets at usasevenscrc.com)
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