College rugby is alive and well in Tucson…and getting noticed

If you heard that Arizona scored six tries to beat UCLA, but don’t know what sport we’re talking about, then you probably don’t follow the sport of rugby.

But if you are among the growing legions that are becoming fans of the sport, you should know that the University of Arizona rugby team just won what many consider to be the biggest game for the Wildcats in the past decade.  (Who says we don’t cover all the sports?)

The Arizona club rugby team beat UCLA, 44-13, to earn a trip to College Rugby’s ‘Sweet Sixteen’ next month. The Cats have two more games yet to play, against New Mexico State and No. 24 Washington, but the win over the Bruins gave them an automatic bid to the College Rugby championship tournament.

You should also know that the Arizona squad has been drawing national attention.  The Cats are ranked 14th nationally and have finished conference play in second place behind San Diego State, playing in the country’s only Premier College Division.

This was the second game against UCLA, with the Bruins winning the first encounter, 17-15, on their home field.  This time, the Cats got on the board early, jumped to a 14-0 lead and then led at the half, 22-7.

Wing Matt Branch and hooker Sergey Pitman both scored twice, and center Hugo Marshall scored once.  Mike Getzler scored a try, four conversions, and kicked two field goals.

This trip to the national tournament will be the first for the Arizona program  since 2001.  Their likely opponent in regional play will be Syracuse.

(Photo: Arizona Rugby Club)