By Dan Rosen
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 17, 1998

Rugby splits 'traumatic' weekend series in San Diego


Leigh-Anne Brown
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA junior Zack Harrison makes a kick for the Arizona rugby team in a game earlier in the season. Harrison received an illegal hit to the back of the head during the Wildcats' match against San Diego State this weekend resulting in his removal from the field via stretcher.

The rivalry between the UA and the San Diego State men's rugby clubs got a little hotter this weekend.

SDSU might have been a little angry with UA leading 16-15 at the half, but no one thought their anger would escalate into hatred.

After UA junior Zack Harrison helped force a SDSU fumble, he was able to chip the ball ahead. And because of the shape of the football-like ball, it popped right back up into his hands. Harrison then dove into the endzone for a try to increase UA's lead to 21-15.

After he scored, an Aztec player went out of his way to run an extra 10 yards to "spear Harrison in the head with his elbow." The blow gave Harrison a concussion and sent his body into convulsions.

"In all of my 25 years involved in the game, I have never experienced anything like this," UA head coach Dave Sitton said. "I am embarrassed for San Diego State and for the game of rugby."

UA went on to lose the match 35-33 on a last-second field goal by SDSU, but the team's thoughts were on Harrison, who was having a great game until the illegal hit.

Harrison left the field on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital. Sitton said Harrison was "flapping like a fish" after the hit. Sitton said the chiropractor at the scene said Harrison probably went into convulsions because his spinal cord was disrupted.

Sitton said Harrison is on his feet but added he will be sore for a while. He is questionable for Wildcats' next two games against UCLA and Long Beach St. Feb. 27 and March 1.

"Nobody who plays this sport deserves the treatment he received and I have so little respect for SDSU and the way they run their program," Sitton said.

The SDSU player, whose name was not available, was not ejected from the game. Most of the spectators, players, and passersby who saw the incident, however, called it an assault and said they would testify to that account.

"I believe that Zack was targeted for some sort of hit that would create an injury because he was having a tremendous game," Sitton said.

He also added "there is no love lost between our two programs."

UA concluded its weekend Sunday with a 23-21 win over San Diego.

The Wildcats held a 23-7 lead at the half but, as the score indicates, the Torreros did not back down.

"The weekend was traumatic but we played gutsy against San Diego," Sitton said. "San Diego also played by far their best game of the year."

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