Coming into the tournament as the one and two seeds respectively, BYU and Cal have flexed their muscles with convincing wins. Cal defeated a talented UCLA side for the third time this season and easily dispatched an undefeated Central Washington squad. BYU dominated Dartmouth and blanked Navy on its way to the Varsity Cup final.
BYU and Cal are no strangers to one another. In their histories, the Golden Bears and Cougars have met 11 times, ten of those in the postseason. They have met seven times for a national championship with the Bears winning five of those contests.
The most recent of those encounters was the 2013 Varsity Cup final. Awarded the 2013 Rugbymag Collegiate Game of the Year, the 2013 Varsity Cup championship featured a back and forth affair.
BYU jumped out to an early 16-3 lead after a try and four penalties from Johnny Linehan.
Cal stormed back with a try from Russell Webb off a penalty but Linehan made it a two score game once again with his fifth penalty kick of the day. Cal’s O’beirne responded with a try but a TJ Allred try made it a 24-17 game.
Seamus Kelly tied the game at 24 with a try but a drop goal at the death from flyhalf Johnny Linehan propelled BYU to the first ever Varsity Cup title.
California’s latest victory over the cougars came in 2011 by the score of 21-14.
Having the game in their backyard gives the Cougars a slight advantage, as they will be playing in front of a home crowd. However, Cal traveled to Provo for the final last year and played the game on BYU’s home field.
Cal coach Jack Clark understands the quality of Cal’s opponent, giving them plenty of praise after seeing some of the Cougars match with Navy.
Because of the time-zone difference, I did take a peek at them earlier before our game started,” Jack Clark said. “They were unbelievable. They’re such a powerful team with a lot of really strong, mature guys. It’s a tall task for us.”
Cal standout Seamus Kelly added similar sentiments but is excited for the challenge.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” I think they’re the best team in the country right now, a real lethal group of athletes. You want to go through the toughest opponent possible to be crowned champion.”
BYU has no lack of respect for Cal either.
“We are impressed with Cal’s setup. They are an impressive team filled with great athletes. It will be a great task ahead of us,” said BYU coach David Smyth.
This will sure to be a tight and thrilling contest. Four of their seven championship title meetings have been decided by a converted try or less, and three of those were by only three points.
Buy tickets at varsitycup.us or tune into NBC Sports Network at 4PM Eastern Time to watch the game live.