(Tucson, AZ) After a tumultuous Fall and pre-season that saw them log zero playing time before participating in our first ever PAC Rugby Conference match, the University of Southern California Trojans Rugby Club lost to the University of Arizona’s Junior Varsity squad by a final of 29-44.
Things started ominously for the Trojans as the Wildcats scored two tries in the opening quarter or play. Flyhalf Adam Bushell got USC on the board in the 18th minute with a penalty kick but Arizona responded with a long break and their third try of the half, 3-17. Openside flanker Michael Cesar made an excellent line break in the midfield and streaked through the defense to score under the posts in the 35th minute. Bushell converted the extras, bringing the contest to within one score at 10-17 midway through the affair.
Arizona opened the second half in the same manner as the first, scoring two more tries against a somewhat listless USC defense. Prop Kian Azizirad got the Trojans back to within striking distance in the 52nd minute on a well-worked series of pick-and-drives, 17-27 with a quarter to play. Unfortunately, that’s as close as things would get as the Wildcats scored three more times before Cesar responded with two late tries of his own.
Said Coach Zac Winter, “We definitely looked like a team that hadn’t played a game of rugby yet. The match fitness certainly wasn’t there. It’s difficult to simulate that type of endurance and intensity and we obviously would’ve benefitted greatly from getting some game time before now.” (USC’s originally scheduled preseason got upended by a series of cancelations and rainouts.)
“Fortunately, we can address the various areas of deficiency and hopefully give a better performance next weekend. As a team, we’re simply not all there. We had some brilliant individual efforts from Adam (Bushell), Michael (Cesar) and Luc (Desroches) but our team IQ at this stage is quite lacking. We don’t have the kind of depth or assets available to where we can afford to function as disparate units.”
“Coming into this competition, we knew every week represented an unprecedented challenge for us,” said Director of Rugby Dominic Riebli. “Each contest sets a benchmark against which we can measure our program. UofA has a program we can only aspire to at this time. Their roster size is 3x ours, their facilities are top notch, and their coaching staff is first rate. (UofA Head Coach) Sean Duffy has done amazing things here. Even though we played his reserve side, we knew that we had a tall order in front of us. Given the circumstances, the coaching staff expected a rough beginning but we had hoped for a better result. We’ll get back after it on Monday and prepare for ASU.”
The Trojans travel back out to Arizona this weekend to take-on Arizona State University. Kick-off is slated for 1pm at ASU Poly Field.
You can find the match video here