By Dan Rosen
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 23, 1998

Rugby ready to defend SoCal title

The Wildcat Rugby team continues its undefeated regular season and defense of its SoCal Conference championship this afternoon at Estevan Park.

In fact, the Wildcats (3-0 overall, 0-0 in the Southern California Conference) are going up against UC Santa Barbara, the team that gave them their last conference loss nearly two years ago. Game time at the park, located at 1000 N. Main St. (at Speedway Boulevard), is 4 p.m.

The Gauchos handed UA a 47-33 loss on Feb. 16, 1996. Since then, the Wildcats have won twelve straight league contests, including a 28-18 triumph over UCSB last year. The Wildcats have not, however, played a regular season game since Oct. 11 when they won the Reno Invitational.

"We are all anxious to play," UA head coach Dave Sitton said. "More anxious now because we are the team to beat and every team in the league will target us. As a result we will not have an easy game this season."

The Wildcats are familiar with the Gauchos, who lead the all-time series, 7-6-1, and know they will capitalize on any UA mistakes.

"They have always been a scrappy team and they have quick people everywhere," Sitton said. "And if we turn the ball over, they know how to make us pay.

"They lost three All-Americans over the last two years. But they are returning a very good fullback and center that we are going to pay a lot of attention to."

UA was overwhelmed by New Zealand's Otago University in an exhibition game last weekend.

Sitton said this is the Wildcats' first significant game of the season and added he expects everyone to play beyond their normal level.

"Everybody has to go into a big game expecting to have their biggest game of the season," he said.

The Gauchos are 0-1 in league play after losing to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UA's opponent on Sunday.

Last year UA overcame a 19-3 halftime deficit to defeat Cal Poly SLO, 21-19. Sunday's game time has been moved to 11:45 a.m. to accommodate for the Super Bowl, an event Sitton referred to as "America's national holiday."

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