Rugby ready to rumble

By Craig Degel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

For UA club rugby, it's time to get down and dirty.

The 26th year of Arizona rugby kicks off tomorrow as the Wildcats start their run for the championship of the High Desert Classic in Albuquerque, N.M.

Challenging Arizona for the title are Colorado, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, New Mexico, New Mexico State, New Mexico Tech and New Mexico Highlands.

The UA is making its first appearance in the High Desert since 1976. The Wildcats lost in the semifinal round that year to Texas-El Paso.

After a workout with the alumni last Saturday, the team hit the practice field this week for final preparation.

"The guys have been working around the clock to help prepare for the tournament," Coach Dave Sitton said. "Coach Tomey and I have the same philosophy there is no way of knowing how prepared a team really is and we don't get the draw (of matches) until tonight. So we're really going in blind."

This week the team has worked on dictating the style and tempo of the game as well as getting the ball back as quickly as possible. With no real set defense, dictating the offensive flow is paramount to success.

The team does not know who it's first round opponent will be, but it doesn't take a lot of guesswork to figure out who they're looking for.

This weekend's tournament marks the first time Arizona has played in a game that means more than bragging rights since the Austin, Texas Tournament last spring. The team lost the championship in a double-overtime match against Texas Tech, which was fielding four ineligible players.

"We weren't real happy with that," Sitton said. "So we definitely have a heightened concern for them. If we could exact some sort of satisfaction from a victory over them, then we would be very pleased."

Junior Chris Everett was a little less diplomatic.

"We want Texas Tech," he said. "We want to get back at them."

As always, the team is looking to go to the top.

"I think I speak for the whole team when I say that we want nothing but a championship," Arizona rugger Bill Key said. "Anything less would be unacceptable."

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