Arizona Rugby has announced their award winners for the 2015-2016 season, with six players being recognized for their work on the pitch.
The program has recognized these players for their performance all year, with Kyle Rogers being named the Team Most Valuable Player for his efforts in Fifteens and Sevens this past season. Rogers, a Junior Flyhalf from Granite Bay, California, finished second on the team in meters ran (830) while also excelling in Sevens, earning 2nd team All American this year.
The recipient of the Mark Shiveley Award given to the program’s top Freshman or newcomer is Number Eight Tyler Hansen. Hansen, a Freshman from Tokyo, seized a starting job early in the season for the Wildcats and became an integral part of the Forwards. Hansen led the Wildcats in breakdowns hit (208) while also leading the team in poaches. He also tied for 2nd on the team in lineout takes while anchoring the back of the Arizona scrum. His strong work in the breakdowns and in set piece have laid down a great marker for the next three years, and Hansen beat out an extremely strong Freshmen group that includes Mark Loane Medal recipient Hooker Steven Branham, Flanker Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Fullback Jack San Pietro, amongst others.
In the backline, another young player has earned recognition and is this year’s recipient of the Geoff Barnes Award honoring the team’s most valuable back. This year’s winner is Scrumhalf Jonah Eldridge, whose steady play and consistent production has led to him being one of the nation’s top Scrumhalf prospects in just his Sophomore year. Eldridge beat out a number of fine candidates for the award, including Center Shane Dempsey whose strong late season production was key to the Wildcats’ playoff run.
Captain Cesar Davila once again has taken home hardware, with last year’s MVP named the Josh “Giant” Allen Award winner as the team’s Most Valuable Forward. Davila had another sterling season for the Wildcats, leading the team in tackles (73) and finishing second to Hansen in breakdowns hit (177). Equally as important, Davila provided strong leadership from the front as team captain, bringing together the team towards a common goal in both Fifteens and Sevens. Davila beat out a strong group of contenders that included Prop Mason Pedersen and Lock Sean Coleman, amongst others.
Arizona is proud to launch the creation of the William David Sitton Award for the team’s most valuable sevens player. This year’s winner is Dante Weeks, who’s linebreaking ability in both sevens and 15s has earned him a reputation as a feared attacker across the college landscape. Weeks beat out several strong candidates for the award, including Rogers, Eldridge, and Ben Joseph, who’s strong CRC campaign this past month turned heads.
For his contributions on and off the field, the coaching staff has also recognized prop/hooker Cam Hudson, whose career has been marked by fantastic dedication to the program.
The awards ceremony caps off another exciting year for the program, with the team finishing top 8 in Fifteens and top 3 in Sevens while making great strides in and around the pitch. In addition, two of their players have received additional recognition with Rogers’ inclusion in the All Americans list joining that of Prop Mason Pedersen (Honorable Mention Fifteens). With roughly 90% of this year’s team returning and over 30 student-athletes signed for the coming year, the future is bright in Tucson. Off the pitch, Arizona has added Canterbury as their kit sponsor, while launching the Red-Blue Game as a new tradition under Head Coach Sean Duffy.
Arizona will also be naming two recipients for awards shortly, with the Lauren Townsend Freshman Student Athlete of the year and the Student Athlete(s) of the Year to be named as grades are calculated.