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‘World Cup’ Finishes Sunday for No. 1 Cal Top-Ranked Bears Venture to Vancouver

Brendan Daly and the Bears are up 10 points going into their rematch with the Thunderbirds.

Brendan Daly and the Bears are up 10 points going into their rematch with the Thunderbirds.

BERKELEY – No. 1 California visits British Columbia Sunday, March 24, as the Golden Bears seek to win their seventh straight “World Cup” in the series finale kicking off at 1 p.m. in Thunderbird stadium.

An annual two-match tradition between Cal and UBC that began in 1921 with a trophy from the Vancouver World newspaper to the team that emerges tops in total points, the 2013 “World Cup” started Feb. 16 with a 28-18 Bears win that gives Cal a 10-point advantage going into Sunday’s rematch.

That margin happens also to be the points scored in the first match by Cal’s Paul Bosco and Anthony Lombardo, two top-line backs who have since been lost for the season to injury. Those setbacks have opened up opportunities for talented but less-experienced Bears to join the fray.

Cal (16-0/4-0 PAC) has continued through its schedule since the “World Cup” opener with six wins, including three in the PAC Rugby Conference, while British Columbia (12-2-2) has been busy as well, winning twice and battling to its second tie of the season while also advancing to the semifinals of Canada’s National Invitational 7s held in the beginning of March.

Assessing their keys to victory, both teams will likely aim to limit their error count and control possession while remaining ready to parry tactical kick exchanges for territory. UBC head coach Spence McTavish added the Thunderbirds will host their half of the 2013 “Cup” with a healthier lineup than those of the recent past. “I think we’ll be much stronger at home than we were the last couple of years,” he said.

A key matchup as Cal and UBC battle in the backline could be at outside center. Captain Seamus Kelly scored a try in the Berkeley opener and will wear the No. 13 jersey again opposite UBC’s Brock Staller, who scored 13 points on a try, conversion and two penalties in that contest.

Among the forwards, Cal hasn’t had J.P. Hurrell back at tighthead prop since he took an injury the following week at UCLA, creating playing time for Lyall Davenport and sophomore Chris Fry. Whoever starts at position will go up against Alex Kam, the UBC captain and a 2012 British Columbia provincial U-23 selection.

Sunday will mark the start of an exciting stretch for the Rugby Bears, with the “World Cup” capper followed by a Homecoming celebration to welcome students and alumni back to Witter Rugby Field on Saturday, March 30, against Utah. Two weeks after the match with the Utes marks the end of Cal’s PAC conference slate, the Bears host Saint Mary’s in the resumption of that local rivalry to end the regular season.

The Bears’ postseason is already set with the Varsity Cup quarterfinal, in which Cal faces Notre Dame April 20 at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The winner of that match will host the winner of Navy vs.
Dartmouth April 27, with the championship May 4 in Provo, Utah. Following the Varsity Cup, Cal will compete in the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s June 1-2 in Philadelphia.

Despite all that rugby on the horizon, the first mission for Cal this weekend is to bring the “World Cup” back to Berkeley.

Participants Extend Commitment to Varsity Cup for Two Additional Years

Cal celebrating their 2011 National Championship

Cal celebrating their 2011 National Championship

AMERICAN FORK, UT–The coaches of the Varsity Cup teams announced today that all eight of the existing participants of the Varsity Cup have agreed to extend their post-season participation for an additional two seasons through the 2013-14 and 2014-2015 academic calendar.

“We have experienced a real breath of fresh air in our interactions with the other schools in the Varsity Cup,” said Mike Flanagan, head coach of the US Naval Academy rugby program. “It’s been wonderful working with like-minded individuals to build a post season framework that advances collegiate rugby while sensitively taking into account the needs of participant teams from every standpoint. We just couldn’t be more pleased with our involvement and are happy to sign up for two more years after this season.”

The mission of the Varsity Cup is to provide the participating teams with a superior platform for showcasing the highest level of rugby in America and to produce a commercially attractive national championship that serves the interests of players and fans alike. The Varsity Cup is a fifteen-per-side single elimination postseason tournament played in the late spring.

The extension also confirms that the competition will retain its existing competition window beginning in mid-April and extending through the first weekend of May.

The Varsity Cup teams are also currently in conversations regarding expanding the number of teams in the competition for the upcoming 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

Team representatives have also expressed the view that it is very important to keep the competition window within four weeks and to not unnecessarily affect student-athlete academics, especially with respect to the timing of final exams. It may not be possible to construct a window during which no team has final exams, but the participants have committed to attempt to minimize any conflict for as many teams as possible.

The 2013 Varsity Cup championship postseason begins April 20th as all eight teams, previously seeded by the Varsity Cup coaches, meet in the West and East Super-Regional Quarterfinals.

In the West Super-Regional UCLA hosts Utah, Air Force and 2012 National Collegiate Champion BYU on the picturesque North Athletic Field on UCLA’s campus. Action starts at 2pm PT with Utah taking on the Cadets of the AFA, followed by the Bruins looking to upset BYU on their home turf at 4pm PT.

In the East Super-Regional Navy will set to host Dartmouth, Notre Dame and California inside the newly renovated and state of the art Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD.  Matches start with California looking to take Notre Dame Fighting Irish to task at 1.30pm ET while host Navy will take on Dartmouth at 3.30pm ET.

The winners of each quarterfinal match will then travel to the higher seeded team’s home field for the Varsity Cup semifinals on April 27th.

The inaugural Varsity Cup Collegiate Rugby Championship concludes with the the semifinals winners meeting inside BYU’s beautiful South Field Stadium in Provo, UT on May 4th at 1pm MT.

For other Varsity Cup news please follow the Facebook and Twitter pages.

ABOUT THE VARSITY CUP: The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason championship. The mission of the Varsity Cup is to grow the American rugby by harnessing the collective strength of collegiate rugby and collegiate sport in general. The Varsity Cup features eight of the most recognized and accomplished collegiate rugby programs in the country vying for the right to be named the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Champion.
The eight Varsity Cup teams are the U.S. Air Force Academy, Brigham Young University, the University of California, Dartmouth College, the U.S. Naval Academy, Notre Dame, the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Utah. In the 33 years of the collegiate rugby championship play 31 of the collegiate national champions have come from one of the eight Varsity Cup teams. In total, a Varsity Cup program has played for the collegiate title in every year of the championship’s existence except for 1984.

The eight Varsity Cup programs also boast hundreds of Collegiate All Americans and scores of USA National Team members making the Varsity Cup a veritable proving ground of American rugby. With the country’s best high-performance training facilities, state of the art match venues and strong coaching experience, the eight Varsity Cup programs set the standard for elite player development in America.

Dartmouth Looks Ahead to Ireland Tour & Return Home: Gavin Hickie

Dartmouth Looks Ahead to Ireland Tour & Return Home: Gavin Hickie

By Dartmouth Head Coach Gavin Hickie-

In less then a week, Dartmouth Men’s Rugby will travel to Dublin and commence our tour of Ireland. Needless to say that I am ecstatic to be bringing the Big Green to my homeland. We are in the process of putting the final pieces together for what promise to be a fantastic tour that will be used to prepare us for the fast-approaching and hectic spring season.

The men of Dartmouth depart from Boston on Friday 15th March. We will be in Ireland until the 24th and we have games scheduled against Trinity College and Galwegians Rugby Football Club. We will be playing an A and a B-side against our opponents and all players going on tour will play a lot of rugby while in Ireland.

As written recently in RugbyMag, there is a very strong connection between Trinity College and USA Rugby. Trinity Director of Rugby, Tony Smeeth is the backs coach for the USA Eagles, while Derek “Babs” Dowling in the Eagles scrum coach. I have known both of these guys since I was a child playing rugby in Dublin and it is a great privilege to be able to bring Dartmouth over to play against Trinity. This fixture goes back in history and I am very grateful to Tony Smeeth for renewing the old Dartmouth v Trinity rivalry. This will be the 7th match between the two, dating back to 1962. The games kick off in Trinity Park at 11:30am and 1pm on Monday 18th March.

Amongst Trinity’s player roster is USA U20s hooker, Cameron Falcon who was recently at the USA U20s camp in Las Vegas. Cam’s rugby is improving a lot at Trinity College and the experience will prove invaluable to him and to USA U20s this year in the Junior World Championship. Another USA U20s player from last year, Pierce Dargan is excelling at Trinity, as is USA Eagles prop, Shawn Pittman. Playing against American players in Ireland will be a lot of fun for our Dartmouth guys. It’s a small world!

Other highlights of our tour to Ireland include marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin on March 17th. I have seen this parade many times as child in Dublin. Little did I know that I would be partaking in it one day! This is an honour for me personally and for all at Dartmouth Rugby Football Club.

We will also be attending the match between Lansdowne and St. Mary’s. The boys will undoubtedly enjoy this game as it one of the biggest rivalries in club rugby in Dublin. St. Mary’s is my club and I am very much looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in Dublin.

We will also watch the final round of the 6 Nations. I am excited to see the DRFC players experience rugby in Ireland. Although the 6 Nations has not gone Ireland’s way this year, the Irish supporters are among the most passionate in the world and its very easy to get caught up in the great atmosphere generated by the 6 Nations. For parts of the year in Ireland, rugby becomes all-consuming and a lot of US players have never experienced this. There is a lot to look forward to.

Our itinerary also includes a tour of the Aviva Stadium, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, as well as taking in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup Final.

The annual tour for Dartmouth is a very important part of our season. From early November until early April, our pitches here in New Hampshire are unplayable due to the snow and cold weather. The tour against steely and weathered opponents prepares us nicely for the rest of our season. Upon our return, we face Princeton in the Ivy League Playoffs on April 6th in Hanover. All going well, we will be playing in the Ivy League final a week later. Should we win the Ivy League Playoffs, we will automatically be given a place in the D1-AA Championship. On top of that, Dartmouth is participating in the inaugural Varsity Cup this year against Navy. Of course, we are also very much looking forward to the USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship. Dartmouth is once again going into the CRC tournament as defending Champions.

There is lots of rugby to be played this season, and DRFC are very excited about the next few months. We are very grateful to the college, alumni and supporters of DRFC who make the tour possible. We would also like to thank George Hook of Irish Rugby Tours for his help in organizing our visit to Ireland.

The main point of the tour to Ireland is to prepare us for the rest of the season. The tour will play a pivotal role in how we perform this season. However, the experience for the DRFC players going on tour will undoubtedly stand to them for the rest of their lives.

As for me…..I am looking forward to going home.

Late BYU Rally Not Enough to Beat Mens Champs NYAC

Late BYU Rally Not Enough to Beat Mens Champs NYAC

Provo, UT–The BYU Cougars scored two late tries in the waning minutes of the match but fell short of upsetting the reining USA men’s division champs New York Athletic Club (NYAC) losing on South Field by the score of 22-16 in a hotly contested match.

BYU’s first scoring opportunity came in the 5th minute as a jarring tackle from center Paul Lasike caused the NYAC flanker Paul Denise to knock the ball loose and into the hands of the BYU wing Chris Wernli who paced 80 meters for what was a supposed try.

But a curious call from referee Mark Ormsby brought the play back to the original knock-on from the Lasike tackle.

BYU would continue their efforts of managing the field position which eventually offered the Cougars their opening points from the boot of Lasike in the 7th minute following a NYAC high tackle.

NYAC would counter however and own the majority of possession and field position for the remainder of the 1st half.

With NYAC knocking on the Cougars’ goal in the 10th minute after a series of repeated lineouts, mauls and goal line phases the BYU defense would cause the turn over and hold NYAC out of the endzone.

But the continued pressure of losing the field position battle and playing close to their goal line eventually led to the Cougars succumbing to the NYAC attack as Eagle scrum half Mike Petri took a quick tap from 5 meters out for the game’s opening try.

The Toby L’Estrange conversion hit the goal post and NYAC would lead 5-3 in the 25th minute.

NYAC would continue to pressurize the Cougars deep in the BYU half and eventually a 10 meter lineout and maul led to another NYAC try.

Again the L’Estrange conversion was missed and NYAC would lead 12-3 at the half.

In the second half a Lasike penalty would start the scoring in the 49th minute, but improved BYU attack didn’t add up to BYU points. On three separate occasions the BYU pressure led to Cougar lineout inside the NYAC 22 meter line, but missed throws or lost possessions left BYU scoreless.

Two BYU turn-overs would also lead to solo walk-in tries from NYAC defenders in the form of No. 8 Alan McFarland ripping the ball from BYU’s captain Ryan Roundy and fullback Justin Hundley intercepting a wide Lasike pass would take the lead out to 22-6 by the 66th minute.

But the Cougars weren’t going to go down with out a fight as prop Kody Thompson would score from close range in the 75th minute and center Seki Kofe would score moments later in the 79th minute. Both conversions were hastily missed by Lasike and BYU’s would-be comeback fell just short.

NYAC head coach Bruce McLane was grateful for his team’s win and the game with the Cougars in Provo.

“We really appreciate the treatment we got from BYU,” said McLane,”Not only does BYU have a class team on the field, they are gentlemen off it. There is a terrific fan base, we really enjoyed our experience, the crowd really threw us for a loop with their enthusiasm. We can’t thank the BYU team enough for the quality of game and quality of the hospitality South field is an awesome venue. We hope to be back.”

BYU head coach David Smyth echoed McLanes sentiments on today’s fixture with NYAC.

“We battled a great team today,” Smyth said, “NYAC is the best men’s club team in America for a reason. They have great players who represent at the international level and they showed their class in taking their moments when they came. That said, I’m proud of our guys for not throwing in the towel and battling the entire game. We’ll learn from this and be better for it.”

BYU next steps on the pitch in a 2nd XV fixture against Utah Rugby next Saturday, March 16th at 1pm.

MATCH SUMMARY: BYU vs. NYAC–March 9th, 2013

BYU 1st XV

  1. David Williams (Ishmael Tilialo @ 40′)
  2. Ray Forrester
  3. Kody Thompson
  4. TJ Allred
  5. Kyle Lontine
  6. Dan Hubert (Jon Layne @ 60′)
  7. Kyle Sumsion (Braden Bair @ 60′)
  8. Ryan Roundy (c)
  9. Luke Mocke
  10. Jonny Linehan (Inoke Funaki @ 5′; Lelann Latue 74′)
  11. Jordan Lowry
  12. Seki Kofe
  13. Paul Lasike
  14. Chris Wernli
  15. Will Taylor

NYAC XV & Reserves

  1. Nick Discala
  2. Conor Coyne
  3. Pat Fiffe
  4. Seth Cohen
  5. Brian Doyle
  6. James Denise
  7. Neil McMillan
  8. Al McFarland
  9. Mike Petri
  10. Toby L’Estrange
  11. Sean Verma
  12. Phil Bailey
  13. Chris Chapman
  14. Kyle Granby
  15. Justin Hundley
  16. Kirk Hamilton
  17. Manny Cipriani
  18. Marvin Jean Baptiste
  19. Phil Rowe
  20. Danny Grace
  21. Ryan Diehl
  22. Gideon Balloch
  23. Rob Johnson

BYU: 16

TRIES: Thompson 75′; Kofe 77′
PENALTIES: Lasike 2/2 (7′; 49′)

NYAC: 22
TRIES: Petri 25′; Doyle 30′; McFarland 56′; Hundley 66′
CONVERSIONS: L’Estrange 1/4 (66′)

Varsity Cup Venues & Schedule Released

Varsity Cup Venues & Schedule Released

Provo, UT–The Varsity Cup Collegiate Rugby Championship released the details of its 2013 playoff to be contested at the end of the 15s regular rugby season.

The championship kicks off simultaneously on both coasts with two super-regional tournaments to be held on Saturday, April 20th.

The East super-regional will be hosted by the United States Naval Academy at the spacious Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium pitting the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the University of California Golden Bears in the day’s first matchup. The second match will feature the Dartmouth College Big Green against the Middies of the United States Naval Academy.

The West super-regional will first present the Zoomies of the United State Air Force Academy and the Utes of the University of Utah in the day’s opening matchup followed by the Bruins of the University of California at Los Angeles versus the Cougars of Brigham Young University in the day’s final match. Both matches will be played on the North Athletic Field at UCLA.

The four winning teams from the super-regionals will meet on the following Saturday, April 27th at the campus stadium of the higher-seeded team.

The seeding for the tournament has been set and is as follows: 1) BYU, 2) Cal, 3) Dartmouth, 4) Utah, 5) Air Force, 6) Navy, 7) Notre Dame and 8) UCLA. Each participant is anxious to host one of the semi-final matches, and has access to a spacious venue with good accommodations for their own fans and those of their potential opponents.

The Varsity Cup is pleased to announce that the Cup final will be held this year on May 4th in the beautiful confines of South Field on the campus of Brigham Young University. With permanent chair seating for over 2,500 fans and the ability to host upwards of 5,000 fans via temporary seating, and access to many thousands of perennially rabid rugby fans in the intermountain area, the final promises to be a thrilling event for the contestants and for the national rugby community.

Broadcast details will follow in a later release. For ongoing news and updates on the Varsity Cup Championship follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Varsity Cup Adds Final Team

Varsity Cup Adds Final Team

Provo, UT–It was announced today that the 2013 Varsity Cup, a premier competition for college rugby 15’s in the United States, has added the University of California at Los Angeles as its 8th partner rugby program.
“UCLA is one of the historically great American college programs, having won three national championships prior to the modern era begun in 1980, and is now on the way to returning to its former status led by Scott Stewart former Canadian International, as its head coach,” commented David Smyth.
“We are extremely pleased to have added UCLA as our 8th partner and look forward to their participation at the highest level of competition this coming Spring.” UCLA coach, Stewart added, “We are delighted to be invited into the Varsity Cup and look forward to exploring how we at UCLA can do our part to assist in the growth of this elite competition in the future.”
With final team now confirmed Varsity Cup coaches can begin the task of finalizing their competition’s 2013 plans.
More details on the Varsity Cup’s playoff format are being finalized and will be released shortly.
For more news on the Varsity Cup on Facebook Twitter.
Varsity Cup Announced

Varsity Cup Announced

Provo, UT–A consortium of universities today announced the formation of a new top-tier post-season 15s rugby competition. The new competition will be called the Varsity Cup Championship (VC).

The founding universities include: Brigham Young University (Provo, UT), the University of California (Berkeley, CA), the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT), the United States Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO), Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD) and the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN). Other founding participants may be named in a subsequent release.

The founding rugby programs have long histories as top-10 programs, with AFA, BYU and Cal being multiple-time national champions.

The mission of the VC is to provide the participating teams with a superior platform for showcasing the highest level of rugby in America and to produce a commercially attractive national invitational championship that serves the interests of players and fans alike.

The Varsity Cup Championship will be played out over three consecutive weekends beginning in the latter part of April 2013.

With its commitment to the Varsity Cup each team will remain a member in good standing with USA Rugby.

“Participation in regular season play is something that is important for Varsity Cup teams,” said BYU Head Rugby Coach David Smyth. “The purpose of theVarsity Cup is to present an additional competition,” he added. “We want to work with USA Rugby and the other collegiate teams to develop the quality of the collegiate game and that means remaining positive members within the collegiate rugby community and by participating in the respective regular season competitions where permissible.”

Statistically, the Varsity Cup boasts the top collegiate rugby programs that own 31 of the last 33 National Championships with California boasting 26, Air Force with three of their own and BYU rounding out the group with two championships. In total, a Varsity Cup team has played for a national title every year except in 1984 when Harvard faced Colorado.

“We view this as the next logical step in the evolution of college rugby in the United States,” said Smyth. “In the end, universities will always want to manage and control their own sports playoff structures, with laser focus on what’s best for the college game. Rugby is no different. I fully expect that this championship will grow and evolve into what it must become to deliver a strong and marketable flagship collegiate competition.”

For continued updates on the Varsity Cup Championship follow the competition on FacebookTwitter and its website:www.varsitycup.us.