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Arizona defeated Notre Dame in the fifth annual Parseghian Cup 62-12 in Arizona on Saturday. The two schools have teamed up with Cindy Parseghian, the daughter of long time Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian, and her foundation, The Parseghian Fund, to raise money to fight a rare disease called Niemann-Pick Type C disease.
Cindy Parseghian has made it a mission to raise awareness and find a cure for the deadly disease that attacks the nervous system. The disease has personally afflicted her as she has lost three of her children to the genetic disorder.
The Parseghian foundation has been working with the two rugby programs for five years, raising thousands of dollars towards research for the cause. This past weekend alone, the foundation raised just under 30 thousand dollars. On Friday night, Cindy spoke to both teams, offering encouraging words and indicated that they have raised over 45 million dollars in total that has been put into research. She stated that researchers are making great progress towards medication to fight the disease.
“It was my first experience with the event and the foundation,” said Notre Dame coach Justin Hickey. “What was most touching was just how courageous Cindy and her husband Mike have been are and continue to move forward with how supportive they are of their foundation and our rugby program despite what they have been through.”
Arizona head coach Sean Duffy added,
“The dinner on Friday was in the Arizona football stadium club. It was nice to hear about what the foundation is doing. There were a number of freshman on both team and it introduced them to this program and what this does and how the sport can be used as a platform for good.”
Notre Dame came into the game knowing it was going to be a difficult match but managed to control the tempo in the first half. The Irish missed a couple of opportunities to score and executed poorly in their own end leading to Arizona scores. Arizona was up 12-0 late in the first half before scoring a late try for a 19-0 lead.
“We felt like we controlled the tempo pretty well in the first half,” said Hickey. “We felt unlucky to miss a couple opportunities and it could have been closer than it was. In the second half they were able to get a lot more possession and made the most of it.”
The floodgates opened in the second half for the Wildcats. Arizona scored 42=3 second half points led by Jack San Pietro and Kyle Rogers. The backline tandem each netted a hat trick on the day.
“At the end of the first half it really started to open up. We started making some adjustments. To see those guys really take some ownership of the backline was great to see,” Duffy said of San Pietro and Rogers.
With the win, Arizona retains the Parseghian Cup for the fifth consecutive year. Overall, it was a great weekend raising money to fight a deadly disease. The partnership started between past Dave Sitton of Arizona and Sean O’Leary of Notre Dame. The Parseghian Cup has now continued under the new leadership of Duffy and Hickey and will continue for years to come.
To learn more about the disease and the Parseghian Fund click here.