Story by Matt Lively
Video by Matt Lively
Rugby Rave 2018 crowned a new champion for the first time in three years. The University of Arizona Wildcats wheelchair rugby team defeated the 360Heat Black team, as the Heat split into two squads for the tournament.
Arizona was dominant in pool play, picking up wins against the Texas Stampede, Minnesota Steelheads and Portland Pounders.
The Wildcats advanced to the Championship Game to face the 360Heat Black team led by Joe Jackson, Scott Hogsett, Kory Puderbaugh and Shin Shimakawa. This was the fifth straight year that an Ability360 team reached the finals at Rugby Rave.
Daisuke Ikezaki was a dominant force for UofA throughout the three-day tournament. His best game came against the 360Heat Black team when he scored 34 points.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Head Coach Josh Wheeler said. “He always shows up and plays pretty well.”
Ikezaki was assisted by Josh Wheeler who came up big with another 16 points to take the match by a final score of 51-43. The Maple Leaves placed third overall in the tournament.
The Wildcats continued their winning ways at the USQRA Mountain Sectionals tournament nearly
a month after Rugby Rave. They took home a Championship win in Tucson to set the stage for the USQRA Nationals.
The tournament will be held at the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center on April 19-22. There is bound to be a rematch of the 2018 Rugby Rave Championship game at Nationals.
Matt Lively is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Originally from South Florida, he has lived in the Valley for three years. His first love is sports and aspires to be a sports broadcaster and story teller in the future.