“The Vatos like to bang. They certainly like contact,” said Chris Pappas, head coach of the Tucson Rugby Club. Last Saturday, Tucson eliminated the NMHU Rugby Club Vatos, 24-5, in the Championship Playoffs of the Arizona/New Mexico Rugby Union. Tucson (10-2) also beat Phoenix 38-14 on Sunday to advance to the divisional USA Rugby National Championships Final 16. In this playoff of the two best Men’s Division 3 teams from both New Mexico and Arizona, the Vatos (14-5-1) won the Consolation on Sunday with a 28-0 win over Las Cruces (mostly NMSU alumni).

“The final score flattered Tucson a bit. It was a close, physical game with a fitter and more experienced men’s team overcoming a very aggressive, young team in need of awareness and better aerobic fitness. With solid, tough rugby, we controlled the first half, but mental errors and the inability to cover the field gave Tucson the opportunistic advantage. We also crossed the goal line twice without touching down the ball for the score (origin of the touchdown) – simple bad luc,” coach Dick Green said.  “We salute the good sportsmen from Tucson and wish them well at the national level. We had a chance to advance to the national level, but we must earn it with better fitness. We need to lose a lot of adipose tissue fat. Nevertheless, it was a good experience for the 28 touring, gentlemen Vatos. We finished strong and it is always a hoot to have small school and town, Highlands and Las Vegas, competing in the big leagues.  We have their amassment and respect,” Coach Greene added.

Undergraduates Estevan “Guapo” Martinez from Mora, and Lyndon Liti from LA, were “Men of the Playoffs” for the Vatos. Both return with over 25 other student athletes for the 2012-13 season, beginning in late August.

Fellow student athletes, Captain Scotty Soto, Chris Villarreal, Preston Moran, and Mark Eder graduate this May and finish their Vatos careers. “We are proud of them and of the ~75% graduation rate of the Vatos. We are students first. We want options,” Captain Soto said.

These graduates will be honored at the last game of the season, this Saturday at Perkins Stadium, at 2 p.m., against the Santa Fe Rugby Club.

Everyone is invited to the free game and post game social.