Cal vs. Texas | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Cal vs. Texas | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Cal will host the University of Texas at Strawberry Canyon in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. For the second consecutive year, the Longhorns will battle the Golden Bears in the Varsity Cup.

Cal traveled to Austin last year and took care of business against Texas to the tune of a 100-7 victory. The Longhorns know it will not be any easier this year, and traveling to California will not make things any easier.

“We know it is going to be tough. Especially from last year. We have had a challenging year as a team but this is why you do it. You go up and test yourself….We are looking forward to the bay area and the challenge,” said Texas coach Chris Hopps.

Texas struggled in Red River play this year, going winless. The Longhorns have been playing better as of late, narrowly losing to Oklahoma last week. Led by fly half Carson Youmen, the Longhorns will try and slow down a potent Cal attack.

“He has got a ton of skill and he is probably one of the better defensive numbers 10’s regionally and I would guess nationally,” Hopps said of Youmen. “He has been a cornerstone on what we have been building off this year.”

One thing that Texas took away from last year’s drubbing was the level of physicality that Cal can bring. Since the schedule was announced, the Longhorns have been preparing for a big, physical opponent.

“Just getting ready physically. Ever since we found out we are going to be playing them…we have been trying to get the guys strong enough and fit enough and the mindset to really battle it out with them,” Hopps added “We knew they would be good, the tempo would be high, with the skills and the athleticism but I hadn’t really seen a Cal team that physical…..Going in we are a lot more aware of that this time and hopefully we are going to compete a little more in the physical side of the game.

Cal comes into the matchup with a 14-2 record, with the only two losses coming to the University of British Columbia. The Golden Bears captured their fourth straight PAC Rugby Conference and will looking to usurp the Varsity Cup crown from BYU.

Knowing the result from last season, and with an undercard match slated with Santa Clara scheduled on Saturday, the Golden Bears will play a mix of upper classmen and less experienced players.

“The lineup plan is to field an underclassmen team against Santa Clara and a mixed team versus the Longhorns,” said head coach Jack Clark. “This is going to be a challenging month of competition and we are going to need to manage the wear and tear on our players.”

Cal is the heavy favorite in this matchup, but with a year of experience and nothing to lose, Texas will come out gunning for the Bears.

Utah vs. Air Force | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Utah vs. Air Force | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Air Force will travel to Utah in the first round of the Varsity Cup. It will be the second time the Zoomies and the Utes meet this year, with the first matchup going the way of Utah in the fall.

Although Utah defeated Air Force 41-30 in the fall, a long time and many matches have passed. For the Zoomies, who underwent a coaching change this season, it has been ample time to get acclimated to a new system.

“The players have really come a long way. I think over the last six months as far as the style of play that we have been trying to get them introduced to,” said Air Force coach Denny Merideth. “Obviously, Utah has had some tough matches recently as well. So we know that they have improved across the board with their entire team… I think both teams are going to be a lot more prepared. Both of them will have worked on their structure a lot over the last several months. So I think the timing of this match with Utah is going to be perfect.

The Zoomies went 3-2 in DIA conference play in the fall and took on a tough non-conference schedule in the spring. The Academy got wake up calls against BYU, Cal, and Life, lost to Navy and beat Clemson. Along with a victory over Army in the fall, the Zoomies have tested themselves against five tough Varsity Cup opponents.

Leading the way for the Air Force Academy is inside center Ben Burmester and second row player Grigor Kerdikoshvili.

“Ben is just a very intense player and an extremely good leader as far as the captain is concerned working with the team. He is an extremely solid tackler and hard runner. It is going to be interesting to see how he does in this match. He has led the guys both physically and mentally,” added Meredith.

Air Force is looking to even the score with Utah, and after a tough schedule, Merideth believes it is possible if his team meets certain conditions.

“We have got to maintain our defensive structure on the outside and be able to hold them, number one. Number two, we have got to be able to retain possession of the ball. That has been a challenge for us at different stages of the season. Those will be our two biggest emphasis points as we go through this week of preparation,” Merideth concluded.

While Air Force played a tough schedule, Utah may have played arguably a tougher schedule. Utah went 5-0 in the DIA West play during the fall campaign, but a tough spring schedule yielded a 4-7 record. The Utes played St. Mary’s and UCLA in a three-day span after winning the Las Vegas 7s and followed that up with a battle with West Point and the PAC finale against Cal. A week later the Utes took on BYU in the Wasatch Cup. Playing such a tough, condensed schedule has had both its pros and cons.

“We feel like our season has been a little more successful than our record would indicate. There were a few teams on our schedule that we know would be challenges for us. Those teams being BYU St. Mary’s and Cal. Frankly, we expect to compete and win in the others,” said Utah assistant coach Jon Law. “After the Las Vegas stretch where were absolutely fatigued and broken down, we didn’t really get back on top of things. We have had to play some first year players, some freshman, some guys who haven’t had a lot of rugby under their belt. From that standpoint, the schedule has been really good.”

Hooker Chad Gough and flanker Gabe Ruflin lead a very talented forward pack. Gough has a real nose for the try zone, and Ruflin’s work rate is extremely strong. Diminutive winger Casey Raymond is a nifty runner and sure tackler and outside center Taylor Thomas returns from injury for the game.

“Gabe does so many little things on the pitch well. His work rate is high. He is an acrobat in the air. He is one of the emotional leaders of the team,” Law said of his flanker. “Casey Raymond, that guy has got a heart of a lion. He is about four foot eight and about 111 pounds but he punches above his weight every game.”

It should be a good one between the Zoomies and the Utes. With both teams playing tough schedules this year, and both having strong pedigrees, either team could walk away victorious.

Arkansas State vs. Clemson | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Arkansas State vs. Clemson | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Arkansas State will host Clemson University in the first round of the Varsity Cup on April 9th. It is the second consecutive year that the schools have met in the first round, with Clemson coming from behind to win 26-22 at home last spring.

For this go around, both teams have a bit of a new look. Both Arkansas State and Clemson have undergone coaching changes. Former ASU All-American Shaun Potgeiter has taken over the helm at his Alma Mater, while Steve Lynch has succeeded last year’s Varsity Cup coach of the year Justin Hickey at Clemson.

Clemson come into the match with a combined fall and spring record of 9-5. The Tigers swept through ACRL play in the fall but fell to a tough AIC team in the ACRC Bowl Series. Lynch’s side played a tough spring schedule, including matches against Life, South Carolina, Wheeling Jesuit and fellow Varsity Cup competitors, Navy, Air Force and Penn State.

Playing at home, the Red Wolves will definitely be seeking revenge this year. Although Lynch is new to Clemson, he is anticipating a hungry opponent. The Tigers are well tested coming into the match with ASU, but Lynch admitted it is going to take a full team effort to come away with a victory.

“In order for us to beat Arkansas State, as good as they are playing right now, all 15 guys have to be involved. My first 15 have to play at their absolute best,” Lynch said. “I don’t think they brought their full complement of athletes against us last year. I think they are gunning for us, so we need to bring our very best on both sides of the ball and every single guy needs to play the best that can possibly play in order for us to compete with Arkansas State.”

While Clemson has played a packed schedule all year, ASU matches have been much more scattered. Unfortunately, the Red Wolves had a number of games cancelled, but early contests against tough opponents like Davenport and Life, the Red Wolves were able to gauge the progress of the program.

“That definitely helped us to see where we are in the season,” Potgeiter said of the matches against Davenport and Life. “It was pretty early in the season so it allowed us to fix some things and strengthen our positives. We did have some cancellations after that, which kind of brought us on the back seat with game time. We have had quite a long break at the moment. We are kind of unsure how that will benefit or not be good for us.”

The time off, however, has put ASU in much better place physically this year. Eight man Kirk Pretorius returns after missing most of last year with an ACL injury and captain Robert Elan-Puttick comes in firing on all cylinders from is fly half position. Along with wing Preston Weigel, who missed some of the spring with concussion issues, the Red Wolves come into the game completely healthy.

ASU is excited to host the Varsity Cup this year and are looking to right the wrongs of last year.

“We went down disappointingly as the heavy favorites last year….They played one heck of a game on their home turf and they really brought it to us. It is up to us this time around to bring it to them on our home turf,” Potgeiter iterated.

CWU vs. UCLA | 2016 Opening Round Preview

CWU vs. UCLA | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Central Washington will host the UCLA Bruins for a quarterfinals matchup in Ellensburg, Wash. on April 9th. The Wildcats have reached the semifinals in each of the last three years, but a very strong UCLA side will be looking to upend the northwestern school.

The Wildcats come in to the game having played a unique schedule this season. After plowing through the NCRC for the last several years, Central Washington elected to play an independent schedule this season. The Wildcats racked up convincing wins over several northwestern colleges and local club teams in an on and off schedule this spring.

The home side comes in with a 10-3 record overall, however, falling to Olympic Club 19-15, BYU 58-27, and the University of Victoria out of Canada 27-22. The Wildcats come into this match having lost their last two games and with a match against Air Force on April 2nd being cancelled, will have not played a match since March 23rd.

“I think that game being cancelled was really unfortunate. We could have really used it, just to make sure we are not under fit for the Varsity Cup,” said CWU coach Tony Pacheco. “One good thing from that is though we will be going in pretty healthy and at full strength.”

When healthy, CWU is a potent team. The Wildcats have a big and athletic forward pack that is spearheaded by captain Vili Toluta’u and Aladdin Schirmer. The former has a tremendous work rate as an openside flanker and the latter leads from his number 8 position. Schirmer, who has had a stint on the HSBC World Series and is a part of the 50 player squad at the upcoming Eagles Elite Training Squad, is deadly off the back of the scrum and active all over the field.

“He leads from the front and by example. He has just been an inspirational type player,” Pacheco said of his captain.

In the back line, CWU gets back the explosive Tanner Barnes, who missed most of last year due to injury. Complementing the center is the recent USA 7s debutant Seth Halliman.

“He is shaped up into form and has been a pretty good player for us. Having his ability and leadership in the back line has really helped,” Pacheco said of Barnes. “(Halliman) adds a piece we were missing in our back line in terms of a guy who can really shift the ball out and find the ball in phase play.”

For UCLA, it will be a tough challenge but one that the Bruins believe they are prepared to handle. With a tough PAC schedule that included a tough loss to Cal and a strong victory over Utah, the Bruins feel their schedule has set them up nicely for a tough CWU side.

“We are looking forward to it. We have been fortunate to have played really good teams all season in the PAC Conference and expect nothing less than to run into an excellent team in the first round,” UCLA coach Scott Stewart told United World sports.

The Bruins finished 9-2 this season and 4-1 in PAC play. However, the last game UCLA played was on March 3rd, the win over Utah. After giving the guys a break to focus on their studies, UCLA held a training camp to prepare for the match.

“We had our exam period and we brought the guys back and had a camp, a private camp for our training squad. This week we are back to school and we are having a normal week. We have been pretty active in trying to maintain our focus on this game,” Stewart added.

UCLA features a balanced attack. Zach Bonte ,Pierre Courpron and Andrew Alex have been mainstays in the UCLA pack the last several years while Seb Sharpe and captain Niall Barry in the back line.

Although UCLA has an experience and well-tested team, it will be a tough ask to win on the road. For Stewart, it will require a complete effort.

“The key is to play for 80 minutes. Central Washington is not afraid to play. They will run and take the game to you anywhere on the field and you have to be ready for that,” Stewart concluded.

2016 Varsity Cup Schedule Announcement

2016 Varsity Cup Schedule Announcement

For Immediate Release: February 26, 2016

NEW YORK – The Varsity Cup Universities and United World Sports are pleased to announce the schedule for the fourth installment of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Championship. With the addition of collegiate rugby programs, many of which are perennial conference championships and post-season stalwarts, the field now consists of 16 schools. Unlike prior years, no teams will receive a first round bye, with the schedule featuring eight matches on the weekend of April 9th.

Defending National Champions BYU is paired with last season’s semifinalist Navy on one side of the bracket along with ASU, Penn State, Dartmouth, Clemson, Arkansas State, and Notre Dame. Finalist Cal and last season’s semifinalist Central Washington pair with Texas, Oklahoma, Army, UCLA, Air Force, and Utah on the other side of the bracket.

The round of eight will take place on April 16th and the semi-finals a week later on April 23rd. In the final four, the higher seed will host the match.

The Penn Mutual Varsity final will be aired live on the NBC Sports Network on May 7th.

About The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby National Championship

The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate rugby postseason national championship. The mission of the Varsity Cup is to grow American rugby by harnessing the collective strength of collegiate rugby and collegiate sport in general. The Varsity Cup features the most recognized and accomplished university rugby programs in the country vying for the right to be named the “Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Collegiate 15s Champions.”

For more information, please contact:
Name: Mark Johnson
Phone: (914) 831-6242
E-Mail: mjohnson@unitedworldsports.com
Website: http://varsitycup.us/

Army, Penn State Join Penn Mutual Varsity Cup

Army, Penn State Join Penn Mutual Varsity Cup

NEW YORK – United World Sports and the Varsity Cup universities announced Monday that the United States Military Academy at West Point and Penn State University have committed to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship as the final 15th and 16th teams in the competition.

Army and Penn State bring their considerable rugby histories and success to the Varsity Cup, which is widely recognized as the most prestigious postseason championship tournament in the history of U.S. collegiate rugby. The Black Knights and Nittany Lions add their 21 final four national championship appearances to the Varsity Cup’s 76 for an updated total of 97 final four places and 34 national collegiate championships among the participating teams.

“Historically and on an annual basis, these two iconic institutions are among the very best rugby teams in the nation,” said Jack Clark, the head coach at California and member of the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame. “They have outstanding coaching and significant institutional support.”

The additions of Army and Penn State add significantly to the Varsity Cup’s eastern representation, which already boasts perennial Ivy League champions Dartmouth and powerhouse Navy, along with Atlantic Coast stalwart Clemson.

David Smyth, head coach for three-time Varsity Cup national champion BYU, said, “The Black Knights and Nittany Lions are the perfect teams and universities to round out our 16-team postseason.”

Dan Lyle, Executive Vice President for United World Sports, added, “From a standard-of-play perspective and, moreover, from a commercial viewpoint, these two teams add considerably to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup’s national prominence.”

Both teams voiced excitement over their entry into the championship tournament as its newest members.

“We are delighted to be joining the Varsity Cup Championship,” said Black Knights head coach Matt Sherman, a former international player for the United States and former head coach of the Collegiate All-Americans. “We look forward to the opportunity to compete against these great institutions and rugby programs this upcoming spring, in particular our fellow service academies.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Varsity Cup,” added Army West Point Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Boo Corrigan. “This will be a new and exciting challenge for our cadets and coach Matt Sherman as we compete on this national stage.”

Penn State head coach Blake Burdette, also a former U.S. international player, echoed the enthusiasm to compete for the 2016 Varsity Cup crown.

“We are excited to be a part of the Varsity Cup and raise the profile of Penn State rugby,” Burdette said, “This move will help with recruiting and branding, and continue the strong tradition of our program. We have had tremendous support from the University, athletic department and alumni.”

“Penn State is honored to accept an invitation to join the Varsity Cup,” added PSU Assistant Athletic Director Michael Cross. “The opportunity to align with the best rugby programs in the country is a testament to Penn State’s strength as a program and its historical excellence. The Varsity Cup provides an excellent way to increase awareness of rugby nationally through significant TV exposure and we look forward to a long partnership.”

The 2016 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship will commence with four rounds of single-elimination tournament play on April 9, with the quarterfinals contested April 16 and semifinals on April 23. The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship final will take place on May 7. Tournament seedings and venues are expected to be announced shortly.

The additions of Army and Penn State bring to 16 the number of teams in the Varsity Cup, which began in 2013 with eight programs. Four more joined to create a 12‐team field in the 2014 edition, and the decision by the Black Knights and Nittany Lions follows the same move by Arizona State and Arkansas State in 2015 to join BYU, Cal, Utah, UCLA, Navy, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Texas, Air Force, Central Washington, Clemson and Oklahoma in next spring’s premier postseason for collegiate 15s. The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final was televised nationally by NBC Sports Network in 2014 and ‘15, and will return to the network for another live national broadcast in 2016.


United World Sports (UWS) LLC hosts a dynamic line up of emerging sports properties and has quickly become the leader at delivering premier international sports properties to U.S. audiences. UWS’ flagship property is the USA Sevens Rugby Tournament held annually in Las Vegas. This exciting 16‐nation, three‐day tournament has become the largest attended rugby event in North America with more than 70,000 fans coming to Sam Boyd Stadium. Broadcast live on NBC Sports the tournament serves as the only U.S. stop on a nine‐city world tour and reaches more than 350 million television households worldwide. Additional UWS properties include the Las Vegas Invitational, America’s Rugby Seven’s Cup, the College Rugby Championship (CRC), the Varsity Cup and the Pro Soccer Challenge.


Clemson Head Coach Named 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Coach of the Year

Clemson Head Coach Named 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Coach of the Year

Salt Lake City, UT—In lead up to today’s Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Rugby Championship, the coaches and administrators of the participant schools met for a series of coordination and development meetings to review the 2015 competition and set plans for the future.

Along with these coordination meetings, the coaches named Clemson University head coach, Justin Hickey, as the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup 2015 Coach of the Year.

Hickey, who was named to the USA Rugby Collegiate All American coaching staff along with Varsity Cup fellow head coach Gavin Hickie from Dartmouth, has quickly taken Clemson from a mid-tier collegiate rugby program in the Atlantic Coast Rugby League (ACRL) to the 2013 and 2014 champions. hickey

Hickey was also named the ACRL Coach of the Year in both of those championship seasons.

Overall, Hickey has led the Tigers to a strong 28-4 conference record over five seasons at the helm.

In the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, Hickey led his Tigers to a 26-22 upset victory over Arkansas State University, but were up-ended narrowly at the United States Naval Academy the following week by the score of 23-24.

After their team’s loss to the Midshipmen, Hickey and the Tigers finished as Runners-Up at the ACRL 7’s Championship the following week, and therefore , qualify to the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia May 30-31.

Hickey was also a member of the 2012 USA Rugby Under-20 Junior World Rugby Trophy Champion coaching staff.

“Justin is one of the Varsity Cup’s rising coaches,” said Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Director Dan Lyle, “And is proof that consistent effort and a solid vision can lead to the development of a winning program. Justin is another example of what makes the Varsity Cup a great avenue for the development of collegiate game and student-athletes.”

After being named the 2015 Coach of the Year, Hickey was obviously flattered.

“To be selected as the Coach of the Year is humbling,” Hickey said, “The room was packed with men that I look up and have interacted with over my coaching career, and this is just as much an award for our players, alumni and support staff. I look forward to continuing our efforts at Clemson and am grateful for the opportunities that the Varsity Cup offers our program to grow and develop.”

Hickey and the rest of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Head Coaches will be on hand at today’s championship match between the California Berkeley Bears and the Brigham Young University Cougars.

Kick-off is slated for 4pm EST and will be broadcast live on national television on NBCSN. Check your local listing for channels.

For ticket and event information visit www.VarsityCup.us.

Bears Visit Broncos Saturday 6 p.m. in Santa Clara

Bears Visit Broncos Saturday 6 p.m. in Santa Clara

BERKELEY – California is back on the road to face Santa Clara University at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 14, on Bellomy Field.

Head coach Jack Clark is expected to field seven frosh-sophs in the Starting XV as Golden Bears (12-1) face a Santa Clara team (4-5) that most recently put up 44 points on the road at San Diego State after beating UC Santa Barbara and Stanford, and keeping it close against Colorado, earlier in its 15s schedule.

All-America open-side flanker Alec Gletzer will captain the Cal side in his first action since exiting with injury in the first half of the “World Cup” opener against UBC on February 7. Gletzer, a senior, will work with a majority of sophomores in the forwards, including Kevin Sullivan, Tomas Zerbino, John Spradling and Connor Sweet.

“Alec hasn’t played in more than five weeks and it’s important for him to get a few minutes prior to Vancouver next week,” said head coach Jack Clark in reference to the Sunday, March 22, “World Cup” finale that follows Saturday’s trip to Santa Clara. “Irrespective of the score, we will get the players likely to be selected for Vancouver out of the match early and let the underclassmen take us home.”

Freshman Matthew Coyle returns at flyhalf against the Broncos after an impressive match in the Bears’ last outing, March 7 at Oregon State. So too returns Karl Thornton at fullback, giving Jake Anderson the weekend off. Freshman winger Jake Goena will start after coming off the bench in Corvallis.

The Bears bench in Santa Clara on Saturday night is expected to include all freshmen and sophomores in the forwards. Freshman Michael Goodwin and sophomore Jamie Howells are the reserve halfback pairing, and freshmen Aiden Flynn, Schuyler Whiting, William Fuller, Zachary Tavenner will be among the reserves in the backline.

Sunset will occur midway through Saturday’s match, making it the second straight night game between the Bears and Broncos. In their last meeting, on Feb. 19, 2014, in Berkeley, Santa Clara was on the heels of the Bears, trailing 19-13 at the break before Cal scored nine unanswered tries in the second half to win, 74-13.

Having most recently played two solid matches against Utah and Oregon State to wrap up its conference schedule, Cal will strive to show continued improvement across the breadth of its roster against Santa Clara. Staying at or close to its stout defensive average of 6.9 ppg allowed would be a good indication that the Blue and Gold was committed to its effort.

After its meeting with the Broncos, the Bears will make their annual pilgrimage north of the border in the series finale of the ”World Cup” seeking to overcome a 13-point disadvantage in 80 minutes against British Columbia at Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday, March 22, at 1 p.m.

Cal returns to Strawberry Canyon to host Saint Mary’s at noon on Saturday, March 28, at in the final match of the regular season before the national postseason for 15s begins at the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Championships.

Photo Credit: Contrast Photography


The 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship Final returns to Rio Tinto Stadium May 2nd

The 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship Final returns to Rio Tinto Stadium May 2nd

New York, NY – With the addition of Arizona State and Arkansas State, the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship teams have continued to expand for the 3rd consecutive year to fourteen of the premier college rugby programs in the country. The schedule and format for this years’ Penn Mutual Varsity Cup will once again feature four rounds of competition, with the championship final being hosted at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT. NBCSN will provide live television coverage of the entire championship final on May 2nd, 2015.

The two time reigning champions, BYU, and two-time runner up, the University of California return to vie for the title of Varsity Cup National Champion. Since the first National Collegiate Championship, Varsity Cup universities have won a total of 31 national titles in a span of 33 years. Moreover, Varsity Cup universities have earned 68 final four places during this same period with Air Force, Arkansas State, BYU, Cal, Dartmouth, Navy, and Utah all having played their way to the final four. Since the inception of the Varsity Cup National Championship, Central Washington University and UCLA have added to the Varsity Cup’s list of final four participants. This brings total Varsity Cup university final four appearances to 76 over the course of 35 years. Over the course of these past 35 years, Varsity Cup universities have been crowned National Champions a total of 33 times.

VCBracket copy

The first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship will take place on Saturday, April 4th at the site of the six highest-ranking teams. Central Washington will host PAC Rugby newcomers Arizona State while the University of Oklahoma will visit the always-competitive University of Utah. In the opposite corner of the bracket, the United States Naval Academy will travel to Brophy Field to challenge perennial Ivy Champion Dartmouth, and Arkansas State will head to South Carolina to take on Clemson. UCLA is set to face-off against three time national champion Air Force in Southern California on UCLA’s Westwood Campus, and the first round rematch between Texas and collegiate sports icon Notre Dame will close out the first week of games.

The eight teams to advance to the second round will square off on April 11th at four host campus venues that will be announced following the completion of the first round of competition. Top seeded BYU will travel to the winner of UCLA vs. Air Force while Cal will travel to the victor of the Texas vs. Notre Dame game.

The third quarterfinal matchup will see the winner of Arizona State and Central Washington facing off with the victor of Oklahoma and Utah. The final four teams, Dartmouth, Navy, Arkansas State and Clemson will yield the final game of quarterfinal weekend.

The Semi-finals will take place on April 18th at the site of the two highest remaining seeds.

For the second consecutive year, the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final will take place at future Olympic Soccer Qualifier host Rio Tinto Stadium (home to MLS Team Real Salt Lake), in Sandy, Utah. On May 2nd, the match will be aired live on the NBCSN 2PM Mountain Time (MT).

About The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby National Championship
The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate rugby postseason national championship. The mission of the Varsity Cup is to grow American rugby by harnessing the collective strength of collegiate rugby and collegiate sport in general. The Varsity Cup features the most recognized and accomplished university rugby programs in the country vying for the right to be named the “Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Collegiate 15s Champions.”

For more information, please contact Blake Mannion

Phone: (914) 831-6267

E-Mail: bmannion@unitedworldsports.com

Sixteen New Players with Cal Rugby

Sixteen New Players with Cal Rugby

BERKELEY – Sixteen new student-athletes have joined the Golden Bears this fall as rugby embarks on its 133rd year as the oldest intercollegiate sport on campus at the University of California.

With an even split of eight forwards and eight backs, many with a Cal history in their families and most of whom attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Sumer Camps, the incoming class reflects a typical geographic profile in recent years, ranging from San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay to Sacramento and Southern California, with two international students from the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, respectively.

“Really happy to have these boys with us at Cal,” said head coach Jack Clark. “They’re strong students with good athletic potential. Overall, a good fit for us.”


Six new student-athletes have joined the team from the Sacramento area, five as freshmen and one as a transfer sophomore.

The collegiate rugby pipeline to Cal from Jesuit High School is alive and well, with three student-athletes coming to the Bears after finishing their careers with the Marauders. Jesuit, the 2014 Northern California champs who almost repeated in the spring as national champions, falling 27-26 in the NIT Single-School final, is coached by John Shorey and managed Fred Khasigian, a former U.S. international rugby player and father of former Bear All-Americans Kirk and Kyle Khasigian, with Kirk also a former U.S. international. Also on the Jesuit coaching staff is Jason Law, a former vice captain at Cal, 2011 All-American and national champion who earned two famed Blues in victories for Oxford University over Cambridge at Twickenham Stadium in 2011 and ’12.

Standing at 6-0 and 187 pounds is Matthew Coyle, a flyhalf/center from Granite Bay, Calif. Nine Cal alumni in his family include his father, William, who works in commercial real estate, and his uncle Richard, who rowed crew for the Bears. His mother, Julie, is a teacher who graduated from Chico State. Additional athletic connections in Coyle’s family include two cousins who played volleyball at UC San Diego and two grandfathers who played basketball at Michigan and football at Wisconsin, respectively. At Jesuit, Coyle had better than a 4.0 GPA while also competing in varsity football as a kicker, receiver and defensive back throughout high school in addition to two years of basketball. Coyle, who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, has a sister, Brooke, at Oregon. Following his collegiate career, the undeclared major hopes to pursue a post-graduate degree in business.

Zachary Tavenner is a 5-7, 167-pound wing from Sacramento who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2013 and ’14. During his Jesuit career, he was recognized by the Sacramento Bee as well as Sports Stars Magazine, a California high-school publication that named Tavenner its student-athlete of the week in the spring. Also a forward on the Jesuit soccer team as a freshman and sophomore, Zach was the starting outside center on Jesuit’s 2013 national championship rugby team and was named team MVP as a senior. He also earned academic honors as a senior. His mother, Cindy, is a commercial property manager; his brother, Steven, also played rugby at Jesuit. The undeclared Tavenner, whose great-grandfather Ignacio Paul Chavez also went to Cal to study engineering, may pursue business or computer science at the University.

Bringing his forward’s skills to the Bears from the Marauders is Trent Terra, a 6-2, 215-pounder from Carmichael, Calif., who is the third Jesuit alumnus to join Cal rugby this year. Slated to play flanker for the Blue and Gold, Terra attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2013. He was a starting lock on both the 2013 national championship team and the 2014 national runners-up, captaining the squad as a senior, when he was named the 2014 Forward of the Year by his coaches. On the gridiron, Terra played two years of high school football on the defensive line, starting as a tackle his senior season. Terra worked for the school yearbook among his extracurricular activities at Jesuit. His mother, Leigh Ann, is a project manager; his father, Sean, is a network analyst. Currently undeclared, he may pursue a degree in political science.

From Elk Grove, Calif., and Christian Brothers High School comes Ryan Hedum, a 6-0, 208-pound hooker who was a three-year Capital Valley Scholar Athlete as a member of the Falcons. Also a two-year veteran of Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, Hedum was a two-sport captain at Christian Brothers in football, where he was a two-way lineman, and rugby, the latter under coaches Mason Gunn, Andy Smith, Jim Seruo, Bob Luttrell and Mike Jackson. Ryan’s mother, Diana, is a marketing professional who graduated from Chico State and played post-graduate club rugby; his father, Kyle, is an attorney who graduated from San Diego State. Two grandparents and a great uncle are Cal alumni. His uncle Mike Davis played football and rugby at UC Davis and his brother, Chris, played rugby at Oregon State. Hedum is progressing through post-operative rehabilitation with the goal of resuming rugby activities later this year. His major is undeclared.

Aidan Flynn is a 5-11, 185-pound flyhalf/center who graduated from McClatchy High School in Sacramento, where he earned AP Honors and was the president of his student body as a junior and senior. A veteran of four Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps, Flynn also played football for the Lions, lining up as a quarterback, running back, fullback, receiver, kicker, punter, returner and linebacker, earning all-league honors as a junior and senior, and captaining his final campaign. He also played baseball and soccer at McClatchy. Flynn was the rugby team captain for three years. His mother, Lara, is a legislative committee consultant and graduate of the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle; his father, Owen, is a construction consultant who also graduated from Cornish and coached his son at McClatchy with fellow coaches Whit Poindexter and Brian Charter. Aidan also played rugby for Land Park Motley youth under coaches Matthew Eason and Cal rugby parent and alumnus Rich Boyer with his brother, Hunter, who attends San Francisco State. His sister, Montana, is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara. An undeclared academic major, Flynn may pursue a science career in field research.

A graduate of Granite Bay High School is Beau Hershberger, who played for the Granite Bay Youth Area Club and comes to Cal as a sophomore having spent his freshman year at the University of Nevada, where he was a scholarship football player. Standing at 6-2 and 235 pounds, Beau is slated to play back row for the Bears. At Granite Bay he was also an Academic All-American and a first-team all-state and MaxPreps All-America football player for the Grizzlies when they won the CIF Division I state title in 2012, edging Long Beach Poly, 21-20. He additionally competed for Granite Bay is wrestling and baseball. On the rugby pitch under coach John Kimble, his team won the Northern California championship in 2011. His father, Greg, is a business owner and his mother, Karen, is a homemaker; both graduated from Chico State. His sister, Brooke, is a senior volleyball player at Granite Bay. Hershberger is considering legal studies as a major at the University.


Two players make the move to Berkeley having played their youth rugby north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

Under head coach and former Cal rugby player Dave Cingolani, Felix Le Merle was a rugby starter as a flanker and hooker for three years, two as a member of the Highlanders Rugby Club and one, in 2013-14, for the newly formed North Bay Wildcats, advancing to the National Invitational Tournament all three campaigns. Le Merle, who hails from Tiburon, captained the nascent Wildcats as a senior. An attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps, Felix graduated from Marin Catholic High School, where he also captained his freshman, JV and varsity football teams as a fullback and defensive end, earning all-league defensive recognition as a senior. In the classroom, Le Merle was a member of the Dean’s List and National Honor Society for his GPA above 3.75. His mother, Alison, a board member of several companies, attended Cambridge prior to Harvard Business School; his father, Matthew, was an Oxford undergraduate who played rugby for the London Welsh prior to his MBA at Stanford Business School and his current career as tech-company board member and angel investor. The elder Mr. Le Merle also rowed at Oxford and in the Masters division for the Marin County Rowing Association. Felix’s siblings include brothers Louis, a sophomore on the Cal rugby team, and Max, who attends Trinity College (CT); sister, Tallulah, at Oxford (UK); and youngest brother, Leo, a freshman rugby player for North Bay. An avid musician, Felix is considering geography, political science and developmental studies as academic majors with an eye toward business school.

Schuyler Whiting is a 6-0, 192-pound center/flyhalf who calls his hometown Kentfield, Calif., and his high school alma mater San Francisco’s St. Ignatius Preparatory School, where he was a four-year Honor Roll student. Like Le Merle, Whiting was a member of both the Highlanders and North Bay youth clubs, and a 2013 Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp attendee. He also played football at SI as a starting running back and safety. Extracurricular activities included his editorship of a high-school literary magazine and a seven-year run as a drummer in a band. His mother, Nicole, is a yoga therapist who graduated from UC Santa Cruz; his father, Ken, is an attorney who graduated magna cum laude at Washington before earning a Master’s degree at Stanford and his JD at the University of Chicago. Whiting’s great uncle played football for UCLA and two cousins ran track at the University of Pennsylvania. His grandmother Dee Ann DeAvilla also attended Cal. An undeclared major, Schuyler is considering law and finance as possible professional pursuits.

To the east, De La Salle High School sends two graduates to Cal after the Spartans finished their spring rugby season as runners-up in the Northern California championships. The staff at DLS includes coaches Rob Duncanson and Matt Fahey; assistants Ray Meadows, Mike Sagehorn and Ed Barfels; and operations staff Ed Christiansen and Rick Medeiros.

From Alamo, Calif., comes Brian Joyce, a 5-10, 244-pound prop and high school Honor Student who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps three times. On the gridiron he was a member of the Spartans’ 2012 California Open Division state championship team and the starting center on the 2013 team, earning first-team all-league honors. Joyce was named Most Valuable Forward on the team in 2013 and ’14. His mother, Beth, is a school teacher who graduated from Georgia; his father, is a Notre Dame graduate and the CEO of an information technology company. His brother, Brendan, graduated from Cal in 2012. Brian is an undeclared major.

Also coming from DLS, where he was an Honor Student, is Michael Goodwin, a 5-9, 161-pound scrumhalf from Concord, Calif. A captain his final two years and the MVP of the Spartans rugby team in 2013, Goodwin attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps for two years and also played from 2007-10 on the Lamorinda Youth Rugby Club. His mother, Kelly, is a Cal alumna who works as a kidney transplant coordinator at California Pacific Medical Center; his father, Kenneth, is a bond broker who graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music. Michael’s grandmother Jacqueline Van Bokkelen also graduated from Cal and his great grandfather William Van Bokkelen played basketball at Washington. He has three sisters, including Grace, who graduated from Loyola Marymount. An Eagle Scout and black belt in Tae Kwan Do, Goodwin may pursue a business major at the University.

Under the leadership of former Bears head coach and Cal Athletics Hall of Famer Ned Anderson and fellow Cal rugby alumnus Matt Taylor – both of whose sons also played for the Rugby Bears – Lamorinda has sent two additional players to Berkeley to begin their collegiate campaigns in 2014-15.

The captain of the forwards on Lamorinda’s varsity team the past two seasons was Peter Golesorkhi, a 5-9, 194-pound hooker from Moraga, Calif., who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer camp in 2013 and graduated from Campolindo High School. On the gridiron for the Cougars, he was a defensive lineman who earned first-team all-league honors as a senior. His mother, Soraya, is a real estate agent who graduated from Tufts; his father, Ramin, is geotechnical engineer who received his Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Tufts before earning a Ph.D. in civil engineering at Cal. Peter’s two brothers, Nicolas and Alex, graduated from Colorado and Utah, respectively. His uncle Samir Giha was a wrestler at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. Currently undeclared, Golesorkhi is interested in possible career pursuits as an entrepreneur or investment banker.

The other Lamorinda veteran among Cal’s new players is the 6-0, 186-pound William Fuller, who played wing on the rugby pitch for three years and scored 11 tries his senior season. Born in Maryland and raised in Orinda, Calif., Fuller is a graduate of Miramonte High School, where he was a four-time Scholar Athlete and two-time winner of the Presidential Service Award for giving over 200 hours of community service. He was a first-team all-league selection as a senior in football, with 59 receptions and 16 TDs as his Matadors gridiron team won the Division II sectional title in 2013, and an all-league track and field selection after winning the high-jump title. His mother, Anne, is a high-school college and career counselor who graduated from Indiana; his father, also William, is an attorney who graduated from Stanford. Fuller also has a grandfather who swam for the Cardinal. A big brother to two younger sisters, Fuller has not declared an academic major.


Conor Lydon played for eight years on the Santa Monica Rugby Club and captained the team in 2013. He ended his pre-college career with the 2014 Southern California championship as a 6-2, 214-pound back-rower and lock, and is slated to play flanker and No. 8 for the Bears. At the 2014 U-18 National Invitationals, his SMRC team earned second-place and Lydon was named Man of the Match in the semifinals. Other accomplishments for the Santa Monica club during Lydon’s career included back-to-back titles at both the California State Games 7s and the Serevi Cup 7s Series. Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, Lydon attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, and graduated from Loyola High School. Conor’s grandfather Charlie Lydon was an international test rugby player for Ireland and also played at University College Dublin; another grandfather, Dom O’Connell, played provincial rugby for Munster; a great grandfather was also a provincial player at Ulster. His father, Charlie, is a senior vice president at Wells Fargo and an NYU graduate who played provincial rugby for Connacht in Ireland; his mother, Ciara, is a homemaker. Lydon also has a younger sister. Currently undeclared, he is considering business as a possible major at the University.

Santa Monica’s opponents in the 2014 SoCal championship were the San Diego Mustangs, from which John Goenacomes to the Bears as a 5-11, 199-pound fullback and wing. Known as Jake, Goena was born in Chicago and raised in Del Mar, Calif., graduating from Torrey Pines High School, where he also played football as a running back and linebacker, earning team defensive MVP honors and a slot on the 2013 All-Academic team. A 2013 attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp, Goena captained the Mustangs rugby team as a senior under a coaching staff that includes Matty Sandoval and former Cal All-American and U.S. International Ramon Samaniego. His father, Steve, is a business owner who graduated from San Diego State; his mother, Chris, is a recruiting professional who graduated from Ohio State. The undeclared Goena, who has three younger siblings, may pursue a business degree at the University with the goal of working toward an MBA.


From Shouson, Hong Kong, arrives Hugo D’Auriol, a 6-1, 182-pound fullback/center who graduated from The South Island School and attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2013. Hugo played rugby with the Valley Men’s Team, an area club, and competed for his school in track and field and swimming. Holder of an International Baccalaureate Certificate, D’Auriol also played rugby for Hong Kong at the U-20 level. His mother, Claudia, is a fashion consultant who graduated from Bryn Mawr College; his father, Guy, is a founding partner of a private asset management firm. Two siblings include sister Anna at Middlesex University (UK) and a younger brother who plays rugby for the Shawnison Lake School in Hong Kong. His academic major is undeclared.

A 6-2, 245-pound prop and flanker, Alexander de Gentile-Williams was born in London, where he played rugby for The Harrow School under former U.S. international Jesse Coulson, a scrumhalf who played at the 1999 Rugby World Cup under USA head coach Jack Clark. Known as Sacha, de Gentile-Williams was a member of both the English Schools selects and the London Wasps Academy Elite Player Development Group. At Harrow he also captained the golf team. An attendee of Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2012, de Gentile-Williams enjoyed extracurricular activities at Harrow that included his school’s a capella group, the practice of cello and double bass, and the role of youth cricket coach. His mother, Jackie, is a school registrar who graduated from Bristol University; his father, Patric, is an investment manager who graduated from Cambridge after playing high-school rugby for the Lycee Francais of London. Two of de Gentile-Williams’ uncles also played rugby for the Beaconsfield RFC senior team in the UK. His two sisters include Anastasia, who attends University College London. Currently undeclared, he could pursue business as an academic major.

The 2014-15 campaign kicks off with the fall 7s schedule, starting October 11 at the West Coast 7s at Cal Poly and culminating November 8-9, when Cal hosts the PAC Sevens Tournament on Witter Rugby Field. In January the Bears transition to spring 15s, ending with the Varsity Cup National Championships before the team finishes the year at the 2015 Collegiate Rugby Championship, where it will compete in the 7s code slated to return to Olympic medal competition at the 2016 Summer Games.