ugby is not a game for the faint of heart. UA club rugby coach Dave Sitton will tell you, "During a game, there is no time to be scared."
The start of Arizona's 1994-95 season will mark the beginning of Sitton's 20th year of association with Wildcat rugby. It began back in 1974 when Sitton came to Arizona to play baseball, and ended up trying his luck at rugby. Eventually, he became president of the club and was a four-year starter.
During his junior year, Sitton founded the Michelob Rugby Classic, an event held in Tucson that attracts squads from all over the world. Today, he is one of the people in charge of organizing the event. Since graduating from the UA in 1977, Sitton's resume has become multi-faceted, and includes everything from coach to commentator.
He became head rugby coach in 1977 and has remained in charge for 17 years. His teams have compiled a 260-132-110 record, and have made three postseason appearances.
Sitton's voice is familiar to all Tucson sports fans. He is the voice of Wildcat sports Ä he hosts his own sports show on KTTU-TV 18 and he also covers rugby for ESPN and the Prime Network.
On top of his already busy schedule, Sitton is involved in marketing and many community-related activities. In 1987, he founded The Enterprise Group.
"It's a marketing group," Sitton said. "We tend to specialize in major sports-related events, like all Wildcat sports events, the Phoenix Suns and the Copper Bowl."
Sitton's group also provides programming services for KNST-AM 790, KTTU-TV 18, KMSB-FOX 11 and Sports Channel America. Around the Tucson community, he actively participates in a myriad of service groups, such as the American Cancer Society, Muscular Dystrophy, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and March of Dimes.
Somehow, Sitton still finds time to coach the UA rugby team. Year in and year out, Sitton develops a team both on and off the field.
"The camaraderie between players is the big thing," Sitton said. "Even after the playing days end the guys still get together."
Some coaches are tellers, others are do-ers.
"He was like one of the players," commented Mike Proctor, who is a former flanker for the UA and is currently an attorney at the UA. "He would play during practice and he could really dish it out."
Looking at all Sitton has accomplished off the field gives you the impression that he has the King Midas touch. It is plain to see that he uses it on the field as well. Since he started in 1979, the team has won 13 tournaments and taken second place in 12. Sitton has coached two All-Americans and has taken his teams on three international tours.
Arizona competes in the competitive Pacific Coast Collegiate Rugby Conference, a conference that has produced the national champion in 12 of the last 14 years.
Traveling and equipment do not come cheap to the team.
"It takes about $40,000 to $50,000 a year to run the program," Sitton said. "We get $2,000 from the university, the rest we fundraise through team activities. Since we no longer charge admission to the Michelob Rugby Classic, the team will be selling T-shirts."
This year's team consists of nearly 100 students. Many of the players have no experience playing rugby.
"When practice starts, we are like teachers," Sitton said. "On the first day of baseball practice, if you tell a guy to go play second base, he trots out to that part of the field. You really can't do that with rugby."
This year's team should be no different from others in terms of camaraderie and the winning tradition. With Sitton involved, good things happen.
"He's a real solid coach," Proctor said. "He sets a good example for everyone."
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