Penn Mutual to title sponsor the Varsity Cup Rugby Championship

Penn Mutual to title sponsor the Varsity Cup Rugby Championship

Penn Mutual, United World Sports and NBC Sports Group Announce Title Sponsorship of Collegiate Rugby Championship and Varsity Cup Rugby Championship

Sponsorship driven by sport’s increasing popularity, solidifies Philadelphia as the home of collegiate rugby

Horsham, Pa. – September 15, 2014 – The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, United World Sports and NBC Sports Group have announced a three-year title sponsorship for the Collegiate Rugby Championship, the largest Rugby 7’s (7 players a side) collegiate rugby championship in the United States. The Collegiate Rugby Championship, which takes place at PPL Park in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, will now be called ”The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.” In addition, Penn Mutual has committed to be the title sponsor for The Varsity Cup, the national collegiate championship of the 15-a-side rugby format. The Varsity Cup, which is played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, will now be named “The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.”

Penn Mutual is committed to work with UWS and NBC Sports Group to establish the Collegiate Rugby Championship as an iconic world-class Philadelphia-based sports event, on par with national championships in other major sports in the United States.

According to Jonathan First, President of United World Sports, “This sponsorship establishes rugby, which is now the fastest growing sport in America, as a powerful corporate marketing and branding tool – one with the same cache of soccer, appealing to an American market comprised, in part, of business leaders and decision makers. We congratulate Penn Mutual on their forward-looking decision, and we’re eager to help them connect their brand with our audience of devoted fans, dedicated players and quality institutions from around the country.”

“Our sponsorship is part of a long-term business-building strategy to extend the Penn Mutual brand to consumers, financial professionals, and student athletes,” says Eileen McDonnell, Penn Mutual’s Chairman, President & CEO. “Like rugby, Penn Mutual enjoys a long and esteemed history–167 years of service to our policyholders. And, like rugby, we are more cutting edge than ever, having doubled our market share since the financial crisis of 2008. Rugby provides a clean slate for us to share our optimistic view of how life insurance not only protects, but also allows people to do more in life and leave a lasting legacy. The sponsorship also gives us the opportunity to attract new talent by gaining exposure to the student athletes of major national colleges and universities. All of us at Penn Mutual are excited about the possibilities afforded by The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship and The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.”

Rugby 7s returns to the Olympic Games in 2016, following an 84-year hiatus, where the United States will defend its gold medal from the 1924 Olympics in Paris. The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is part of a nationwide effort to build American rugby talent in preparation for the Olympics. In the past three years, the Collegiate Rugby Championship has produced 15 players who have gone on to play for the U.S. National teams. In the 2014 Collegiate Rugby Championship, 20 of the top colleges and universities competed for the title, including Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan, Navy, Ohio State and reigning national champion, The University of California Golden Bears. Beginning in 2015, a portion of Penn Mutual’s sponsorship investment will be awarded to the winning team, the proceeds of which will be used to build the team’s rugby program on-campus.

For its participation, Penn Mutual will tell its story to millions of Americans through TV exposure on NBC, NBCSN, Universal Sports Network, Comcast SportsNet, in-event branding, online and digital marketing, and through localized and national promotions and events throughout the year.

“We’re thrilled to have Penn Mutual join our partnership with United World Sports in support of the Collegiate Rugby Championship and The Varsity Cup,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports Group. “We believe Penn Mutual’s support will aid in the growth and popularity of these events, and the sport of rugby across the U.S.”

According to McDonnell, “This sponsorship squarely provides Penn Mutual with a smart, effective way of reaching a vital new audience that can benefit from the power of life insurance as well as the career opportunities it offers.”

About The Penn Mutual Life Insurance CompanySince its founding in 1847, Penn Mutual has been driven by its noble purpose to create a world of possibilities. At the heart of this purpose is the belief that purchasing life insurance is the most protective, responsible and rewarding action a person can take, and is central to a sound financial plan. The company is committed to helping individuals, families and small businesses unlock life’s possibilities through life insurance and annuity solutions. This is accomplished through a national network of more than 5,000 financial professionals, who help clients make great things possible. Penn Mutual supports its field representatives with brokerage services through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor and wholly owned subsidiary. Member FINRA/SIPC. Visit Penn Mutual on the Internet at http://www.pennmutual.com.

About United World SportsUnited World Sports (UWS) is the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands including, the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: http://www.unitedworldsports.com

About NBC Sports Group
When the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed in January 2011, the sports assets of the two companies combined to form NBC Sports Group, which serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of a unique array of broadcast television, cable television, radio and digital sports assets, including NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN (NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel, 11 NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital.

Contact Info:

Kim Harmsen
Gregory FCA
Phone: (610) 228-2134
Email: Kim@GregoryFCA.com

Keith Bratz
Penn Mutual
Phone: (215) 956-7907
Email: bratz.keith@pennmutual.com

Joe Favorito
UWS Public Relations
Phone: (201) 746-0005
Email: fatherknickerbocker1@yahoo.com

Jamie Palatini
NBC Sports Group
Phone:(203) 356-2791
Email: Jamie.palatini@nbcuni.com

Varsity Cup adds Arizona State

Varsity Cup adds Arizona State

NEW YORK – The Varsity Cup announced Thursday that Arizona State University will join its national collegiate rugby championship postseason in the spring of 2015.

“On behalf of the Varsity Cup universities and our commercial partner, United World Sports, I offer a sincere welcome to Arizona State,” said Varsity Cup founder and Brigham Young head coach David Smyth. “The Sun Devils are a rugby program on the rise, with strong support from their administration and local community. They will be another natural fit for the Varsity Cup.”

The addition of the Sun Devils brings to 14 the number of teams in the Varsity Cup, a single-elimination postseason tournament that began in 2013 with eight programs. Four more joined to create a 12-team field in the 2014 edition, and the decision by ASU follows the same move by Arkansas State earlier this summer 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. Together, the Varsity Cup field represents 31 of the 33 national collegiate champions crowned by USA Rugby and 69 of its final-four teams from the 1980 through 2012 postseasons.

The Sun Devils’ 133 team national championships all-time make ASU one of the most accomplished sporting universities in the United States. Rugby’s reentry as a medal sport at 2016 Summer Olympic Games adds further weight to the move by Arizona State, which has produced 160 Olympians since 1952.

Said Ray Anderson, Director of Athletics at ASU, “We are excited about the opportunity for our rugby team and pleased about Arizona State’s inclusion in the Varsity Cup, where the program will compete among the sport’s elite.”

Rugby was inaugurated at ASU in 1975 and has regularly ranked in the Top 25 in the country under head coach Gary Lane. “We are building for our future and see our inclusion as a necessary aspect of our development,” Lane said. “In recent years, we declined invitations to participate in the USA Rugby postseason and it was always our hope to receive a Varsity Cup place.”

Sun Devils fullback Adam Sandstrom, having just completed a national team trial at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., said, “I am confident that our team will rise to the occasion this season and in the years to come, proving that we are able to compete with the best teams in the country.”

About The 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 collegiate 15s Varsity Cup National Champions.

About United World Sports

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.

Arkansas State

Arkansas State

For over 15 years the Arkansas State University Rugby Team (A-State Rugby) has experienced considerable success in the college rugby competition, culminating in USA Rugby 7s National Championships in 2012 and 2013 and a USA Rugby D-1A 15’s National Championship appearance against Brigham Young University (2012). The Red Wolves competed admirably in the 49-42 loss. A-State Rugby has also produced multiple Collegiate All-Americans and USA 7s National Team Representatives. A-State Rugby culture centers around preparation and good decision-making on and off the field. Accordingly, participants on the team are encouraged to take advantage of the many resources and opportunities Arkansas State University has to offer.

Led by Head Coach Shaun Potgieter, the coaching staff displays a talent for teaching the game of rugby, sharing their experiences and methods in a healthy and dynamic environment. Enthusiastic and talented, the coaching staff is adamant about keeping the program progressing on a path of excellence. This spring, the Red Wolves have put in an impressive win against Davenport University and a hard-fought effort in a close loss against Life University. Up next, A-State Rugby will host the Clemson University Rugby Club, April 9th , for the first round of the Varsity Cup Competition. Following the conclusion of the Varsity Cup Competition, A-State Rugby is looking forward to participating in the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship where they look to build on last year’s performance.

BYU Claims 2014 Varsity Cup

BYU Claims 2014 Varsity Cup

In front of 10,172 fans, BYU defeated Cal for its second consecutive Varsity Cup title.  Leading throughout the contest, BYU defeated Cal 44-33 in at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Paul Lasike opened the scoring for BYU off a line break and missed tackle from Cal. Fullback Josh Whippy popped a pass back inside after beating a Cal defender for a 7-0 lead.

Moments later Andrew Battaglia tied the game for Cal off a pass from Jake Anderson.  Battaglia scampered down the sideline and dotted down over BYU winger Jordan Lowry.  Jake Anderson tied the game with a successful conversion.

The Bears were dealt a significant blow minutes after the Battaglia score when junior Number 8 Tiaan De Nysschen left the game with a significant shoulder injury.

BYU broke the deadlock when Jonny Linehan threw a miss pass to winger Jordan Lowry for a sprint to the corner. Linehan missed the tough conversion making it 12-7 Cougars

Cal was able to build some continuity following the BYU try but unforced errors and missed opportunities killed the Cal attack. A great kick by Russell Webb picked up by Seamus Kelly started a series of phases in BYU territory. The ball was sent wide and Harry Adolphus offloaded it off but the ball was knocked on right by the goal line.

Minutes later Anderson pushed a penalty wide.  Electing to go for points from nearly 50 meters, the fullback had the distance but pushed the kick to the right of the posts yielding possession back to the cougars

BYU earned a penalty at nearly the identical spot to the penalty spot from which Anderson missed his attempt.  The Cougars elected to kick for touch and scored off the ensuing lineout.

The Cougars showed tremendous discipline and patience.  The forwards did a series of picks gaining small chunks of yardage on the fringes.  The BYU pack earned the try at the breakdown muscling over after numerous phases.

Unforced errors killed Cal throughout the first half. A Knock on in its own territory and then a penalty for not rolling away resulted in a penalty goal attempt for Linehan. The bears were saved for the moment when the kick attempt hit the upright and bounced back in to Cal hands.

Cal overthrew a lineout and after a Johnny Linehan kick ahead, the Bears back three attempted to link but a poor pass bounced right into the arms of a BYU forward.  The Bears were not as fortunate this time around as the ball made its way wide for a Chris Wernli try.

Cal’s sloppy play in the first half limited their offensive chances.  However, there competitiveness at the breakdown held the BYU offense in check.

“Our forwards played very well in the first half. But we didn’t hold our nerve very well in the backs,” said Cal coach Jack Clark.

Despite 10 turnovers in the first half, Cal was able to capitalize on a BYU error for a score right before halftime. BYU elected to run from their own goal line and knocked the ball on leading to the Cal score right at half time. On his first touch after entering the game as a substitute, Miles Honens scored a converted try.

At the break BYU led Cal 22-14.

At the start of the second stanza, Russell Webb made a one handed offload leading to Battaglia’s second try in the corner. Anderson missed the conversion making it 22-19 in favor of BYU.

Just when Cal looked to be taking back momentum, the ball scooted out of a ruck and scrumhalf Luke Mocke pounced on the ball, beat a man and scored under the posts.  With a Linehan conversion BYU upped its lead to 29-19

Cal turnovers continued in the second half and resulted in another BYU score. Kyle Sumsion ripped the ball away right on the Cal goal line and Johnny Linehan found Josh Whippy on a crash ball for a try.  With the conversion, BYU led 36-19.

After a great display of tackling from BYU, Rusell Webb took a one handed offload from Alec Gletzer for a try under the posts.  With twelve minutes to play BYU led 36-26.

Cal controlled a lot of the possession in the second half but turnovers stymied the Bears attack. Cal had several line breaks but knocks-on killed any attacking chances in the final minutes.

Josh Whippy put the icing on the cake with his second try of the afternoon.  Cal was able to put up a consolation try as time expired but ended up falling short 43-33.

BYU claimed its second consecutive Varsity Cup title with BYU’s Kyle Sumsion being awarded the Man of the Match Award.

“Credit cal they really made us work for it.  To beat cal you have got to be physical.  Today we were able to do that.  All in all our boys did what we had to do win the title,” said BYU coach David Smyth.

They’re the national collegiate champions on merit. Beyond BYU, I’m proud of the Varsity Cup universities which comprised this postseason. It has been a great tournament and we all salute the Cougars as our champion,” Cal Coach Jack Clark added.

Starting with 12 teams and 11 matches later, BYU has earned the right to be called the Varsity Cup champions.




BYU defeats Cal to Win Varsity Cup Collegiate Rugby National Championship

BYU defeats Cal to Win Varsity Cup Collegiate Rugby National Championship

BYU defeated Cal 43 – 33 in front of a home crowd of 10,172 at Rio Tinto Stadium to win the 2014 Varsity Cup National Rugby Collegiate Rugby Championship.

BYU got off to an early start with Paul Lasike scoring a try to put BYU up 7-0. Cal responded quickly with Andrew Battaglia scoring at the eight minute mark. BYU responded with Wing Jordan Lowry scoring to put BYU up 12 – 7 after a missed conversion by Linehan.

Cal tried to respond but came up short after few uncharacteristic errors that gave BYU the chance to open up their lead after Joe Pikula scored in the corner at the thirty minute mark. 

Cal fought back hard and quickly responded with a try of their own from Miles Honens to make it 22-12 at the half. 

Cal came out at the half with a try from Battaglia making it 22-19. BYU responded quickly with two tries making it 36-19.

After a few additional tries, the final match concluded with a score of 43 – 33, with BYU winning the Varsity Cup Collegiate Rugby National Championship.




BYU Set To Clash With Cal In Varsity Cup Final

BYU Set To Clash With Cal In Varsity Cup Final

Its déjà vu in the Varsity Cup as Cal and BYU will once again play for the Varsity Cup title.

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.

Semi-Final Recap: BYU & Cal Advance

Semi-Final Recap: BYU & Cal Advance

Photo by Michael Pimentel/GoldenBearSports.com

The top two seeds both won convincingly to move on to the Varsity Cup final.  BYU defeated Navy 60-0 and Cal surged by Central Washington 58-14.

BYU vs. Navy

Read: BYU Rugby recap | Match video available herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpF-KpRxWAc

On cold a rainy day, BYU overcame tough weather conditions to score 60 points on the Midshipmen.

BYU scored five minutes into the match via outside center Jared Whippy.  Whippy would exit shortly after the try with an injury.

Chris Wernli quickly put the cougars up 12-0.  It was the first of his two scores on the afternoon.

Paul Lisike, the injury replacement for Jared Whippy, came on added a spark to the BYU side.  He ran over several Navy defenders in route to a try.

A penalty and another score by Zane Mendenhall gave the Cougars a 29-0 lead going into the break.

The skies opened up at the start of the second half making the ball very slick and tough for passing.  BYU elected to play the field position game for most of the second half, using Johnny Linehan’s boot to pressure the Navy defense.

In an error filled and sloppy second half, Navy was never able to establish any continuity.  The cougars continuously disrupted Navy ball at the breakdown, frequently turning it over.

BYU dominated the set piece, driving Navy back in the scrum.  Combined with solid line defense, BYU was able to keep Navy off the score sheet.

“I think we did a good job getting out on these guys early, playing solid defense and we never let up. Anytime you shut out a team, especially, one as good as Navy, you’re going to be happy,” Kyle Sumsion told BYU reporters.

Once again Kyle Sumsion played a solid game for the Cougars.  He consistently got over the gain line forcing the Navy defense backwards.

Josh Whippy, Joe Pikula, Steve Saia and Josh Anderson all found the try zone in the second half on the way to a 60-0 victory for the Cougars.

BYU coach David Smyth was happy with his team’s performance and will be looking forward to the Varsity Cup championship.

I thought we started the game well given the conditions,” said Smyth, “And overall we put together a solid performance that we can certainly build on moving into the championship game next week.”

Cal vs. Central Washington

Read: Cal Rugby recap.

With 48 first half points, Cal dispatched Central Washington 58-14.

Cal jumped out to a fast start thanks to a Jake Anderson score.  Anderson dummied a pass inside and beat a Central Washington defender for a try.  Anderson converted his own try giving the bears a 7-0 lead. Anderson’s was nearly perfect with the boot, finishing with 28 points on the day.

With a stiff wind at its back in the first half, Cal won the field position battle with well-placed kicks.  Combined with several handling errors from Central Washington, the Golden Bears were in good position to put up points.

Off a scrum, Harry Adolphus finished off a series of passes for a try in the corner.  It was the first of his two tries on the day.

Cal’s next score came off a dynamic run from Seamus Kelly.  Kelly beat five Wildcat defenders for an emphatic try under the posts.  Within ten minutes the Golden Bears were up 21-0.

Central Washington showed some life off the kickoff earning a penalty and a lineout inside Cal’s 22.  After a series of pick and go phases, Jacob Bates edged over the try line for Central Washington’s first score of the day.

Cal continued the onslaught by adding a penalty and a skillful try.  Russell Webb chipped the ball to an oncoming Harry Adolphus making the score 31-7 in favor of the home side.

Cal was seemingly able to score at will in the first stanza.

“Especially in the first half, it came down to how fast we played,” said Anderson. “The way we were getting to the breakdown, resourcing the ball and moving it away was really encouraging.”

It did not help that mental and physical mistakes plagued Central Washington all day.  With the score 31-7, Jake Anderson placed a kick in behind the Central Washington defense. A Central Washington player claimed he had touched the ball down for a 22-meter kick but the referee did not award the kick.  The referee awarded Cal a penalty for a forward pass and subsequently scored a try.

Central Washington coach Tony Pacheco credited Cal for capitalizing on Wildcat errors.

“Whenever we made a mistake, Cal was clinical in how they punished us and put in tries.

Cal’s superb play combined with Central Washington’s mistakes led to the half ending 48-7 in favor of the Golden Bears.

The second half was a much more even contest.  Now with the wind, the Wildcats used the kick to win field position.  The Wildcats earned numerous penalties and kept electing to take the lineout.  They struggled all day with their lineout’s losing a majority of their own ball.

The Wildcats earned a try with less than five minutes to go in the game but it proved too little too late.

The game ended 58-14.

Cal will play BYU in a rematch of last years Varsity Cup final.  Last years game was a thrilling contest seeing BYU defeat Cal as time expired. The game will take place at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 3rd.  It will kickoff at 4 PM EST.

 Photos by by Michael Pimentel/GoldenBearSports.com, Abel Barrientes, and Paul Meyers. 


Semi-Finals Game Summary

Semi-Finals Game Summary

Varsity Cup Semifinals

2014 Navy-6

BYU 60 – 0 Navy Final

Location: South Field, 46 degrees, rainy
WeTransfer link to entire game video available: http://we.tl/2GT3Wji68Z 
Video game moments of note:
29th minute: Two-sport athlete and rugby All-American center Paul Lasike barging run for a try (20-0)
38th minute: Hooker Zane Mendenhall deft dummy pass and run for a try (27-0)
41st minute: Fullback Josh Whippey opens the second half scoring by slicing his way 60 meters through the Navy defense for a try (34-0)

Cal 58-14 Central Washington Final

Witter Field

Next Event: Varsity Cup National Rugby College Championship

BYU vs. Cal

2:00 p.m., Saturday, May 3, 2014
Rio Tinto Stadium
Varsity Cup Rugby Weekend In Utah

Varsity Cup Rugby Weekend In Utah

With the May 3rd Varsity Cup final on the horizon, the Utah rugby community is bracing for an action packed, weekend full of a wide array of events focused on rugby. More than just a tournament, the Varsity Cup celebrates the continued growth of rugby in the United States and pushes to get more Americans involved in the sport.

Utah Youth Rugby and United World Sports have teamed up to put on a tremendous weekend of rugby related events centered on the Varsity Cup championship.

Kicking off the weekend’s activities is a Friday night college fair. All twelve of the Varsity Cup programs will be represented in some fashion. Coaches, players and school administrators will be present to answer questions and meet with high school juniors and seniors looking to continue playing rugby in college.

Highlighting the fair will be the Air National Guard. The guard will be speaking at the event about its rugby scholarship program.

“The College Fair creates an opportunity for young athletes to meet coaches and players and understand how to go about getting into a school where they can play rugby,” Utah Youth Rugby President Michael Cressler told United World Sports.

Saturday morning is the start of RugbyPalooza. From 10-12, Utah Youth Rugby will be hosting a clinic to acclimate kids to rugby. Utah University players and Utah Youth Rugby Development Officers will introduce kids to a new sport, teaching them the basics of the game.

At the same time, Utah Youth Rugby Officers will be available to answers any questions parents have about the sport. Any parent or coach that is interested in furthering his or her knowledge of the game can participate in a certified coaching clinic.

“It will allow any parent that has any questions or concerns about rugby to ask administrators direct questions about the sport,” Cressler said.

Every kid that participates in RugbyPalooza will receive a ticket to the Varsity Cup and a free t-shirt from the Utah Rugby Academy.

Coinciding with the Varsity Cup is the Utah Rugby Open. The tournament features three divisions including Boys U-18, Boys U-16 and Girls High School. These athletes will have the ability to showcase their talents in front of prospective college coaches on Friday and Saturday at West Jordan Soccer Complex.

The Boys U-18, Boys U-16 and Girls tournaments will feature 20, 16 and eight teams respectively. The Boys U-18 has drawn teams from all over the west coast. Three current state champions, Herriman, (Utah) Red Mountain (Arizona) and Nakahi (Idaho) will be participating making for a great weekend of rugby.

Rio Tinto Stadium has a full slate of rugby lined up starting with the D1AA Collegiate championship match scheduled for 10AM. At 12:00 the stadium will host the Utah Rugby Open Boys Final  match followed by the Varsity Cup final at 2 PM.

The stadium gates will be open early in the morning for tailgating. It will take place in the northwest Parking lot at a first come, first served basis.

Utah Youth Rugby will be providing updates through out the day via its newly launched application. From vendor deals, weather updates, to real time score updates, Utah Youth Rugby will be providing a tremendous experience for visitors.

After all, the weekend is more than just a championship match.

“The Varsity Cup has broader based initiatives that really emphasize rugby growth in the United States,” said Executive Vice President of United World Sports, Dan Lyle. “It is a large scale rugby event that is participatory friendly, spectator friendly and educational” he added.

The Utah rugby community is significant and a great host for the event. There will be a great atmosphere and a tremendous amount of fun.

“As a group we believe in the Utah rugby community. It is robust and a real rugby community.”

Be sure to check out a fun filled week of rugby related events. Tickets for the Varsity Cup can be purchased at Varsitycup.us.


Top Teams Set To Clash In Varsity Cup Semi-Finals

Top Teams Set To Clash In Varsity Cup Semi-Finals

All four of the top seeds remain in the Varsity Cup making for an exciting semi-final round.  Cal, BYU and Navy flexed their muscles this weekend, demonstrating their prowess as elite collegiate programs.  Central Washington overcame a late deficit to punch its ticket to the semi-final and will provide Cal with one of its stiffest tests of the season.

Both semi-finals will take place at the two highest remaining seeds, BYU and Cal respectively.  BYU will host Navy while Central Washington will return to California to play the Golden Bears.

Watch: Cal vs. UCLA |  Central Washington vs. Utah | Navy vs. Texas | BYU vs. Dartmouth 

BYU vs. Navy

After a close first half with Dartmouth, BYU pulled away for a 70-15 win in the Super Regional.  In similar fashion, Navy outlasted Texas by the score of 64-10.

BYU will look to get off to a much stronger start this week.  Navy, who defeated Dartmouth 70-5 earlier this season, will be a tougher challenge.

“We weren’t playing the polished rugby I’d expected at this time of the season. We cannot afford to have similar slow starts as we move on in the Varsity Cup, head Coach David Smyth  said of his teams performance against Dartmouth.

Despite the slow start, BYU righted the ship in the second half dotting down eight-second half tries. Smyth expects his team to play 80 minutes of solid rugby this week and believes, if they do, it will be tough for Navy to beat them.

“When we play good solid fundamental rugby we’re a tough team to beat.  It is a matter of getting our boys to play where that is a consistent thing.”

In preparation for Navy, BYU has been working on maintaining ball possession and its ball security. They are preparing for a physical match working to stop a strong set of Navy forwards and dynamic halfbacks.

“The Physicality of their forwards is something we have been stressing all week.  They are a pretty direct team and we have been working to combat their pod and slow down their 9-10 combination.”

An equally strong pack and fly half Johnny Linehan lead the cougars.  Expect the Cougars to test the Navy back three with some well-placed kicks.

This game features a pair of talented fly half’s.  The New Zealand born Linehan is a gifted offensive player and destructive in his tackling. Jack McAuliffe leads the Midshipmen backline and is often involved in Navy scores.

Ricky Neel-Feller will be a huge factor for Navy.  After missing three weeks of action, Feller shook off the rust, playing 40 minutes in the win over Texas.  In order to let McAuliffe be effective, Navy will most likely need a solid 80 minutes from the talented scrumhalf.

In order for Navy to prevent BYU’s explosive offense from making a big impact on the match, it must win the possession battle.

“If you look at the Super Regional matches, the successful teams made their opponents’ play significantly more defense.  In order to beat BYU we have to maintain possession of the ball and put pressure on their defense,” Coach Mike Flanagan told reporters.

It is clear that both teams have been stressing ball retention coming into the semi-finals.  Whoever wins the battle at the breakdown will most likely be victorious.

The game kicks off at 1PM MST and will live streamed at: https://www.youtube.com/user/BYURugbyTV.

Cal vs. Central Washington

In the Western semi-final Cal will host Central Washington after handily defeating UCLA for the third time this season.

The last time Cal and Central Washington met was in 2011.  Cal defeated the Wildcats 44-14 on the road with a try from scrumhalf Paul Bosco and two apiece from then freshman Jake Anderson and Jared Braun.

The team’s composition is much different today due to turnover and injuries.

With five starters lost to season ending injuries (including Braun) and several more with end of season bumps and bruises, Cal’s roster is slightly depleted.  Nevertheless, the depth of the program is remarkable, with reserves stepping up to fill the void.

The Cal coaching staff knows Central Washington will be a tough opponent but is confident in its team’s ability to reach its second consecutive Varsity Cup final.

Central Washington has a strong side as evidenced by their undefeated record,” said head coach jack Clark. “We’re not undefeated, we have flaws, but we believe if we get it right on the day, we can beat them.”

Cal will be looking to minimize the mistakes it made against UCLA, including two yellow cards within minutes of each other.

Clark told the Daily Californian, ““We need the discipline to play a little bit more conservatively. To recycle the ball and show some patience.”

The Golden Bears are trying to find that balance between playing mistake free rugby and keeping the foot on the pedal.

“We have to have more of a killer instinct,” said Seamus Kelly. The Golden Bears are aware of Central Washington’s ability to play from behind, making it essential for them to capitalize on every opportunity.

Central Washington is excited with the prospect of playing Cal on its own pitch.

Coach Tony Pacheco said, “We’ve never played before on Witter Rugby Field and we’re excited about that. We want to go out and play some really good rugby against a really good team.”

Central Washington will need to be much sharper this week in order to defeat a staunch Cal opponent. The Wildcats committed far too many penalties last week, allowing Utah to kick its way out of pressure.

“We’re going to have to clean up our tackle area to have our best chance next weekend,” said Pacheco.   “We did not win the gain line last week and Cal does well in that area.  If we improve on that aspect of the game, especially defensively and get them moving backwards, it will help us quite a bit.”

Cal’s defensive shape and discipline has impressed the Wildcats. Central Washington will need to make good decisions will the ball in order to break down the Golden Bear defense.

“We must play what is in front of us.  If the space is in behind we will use the boot.  If it is not we will use phases. The important thing is we make the right decision,” said Pacheco.

Cal’s ability to exploit weaknesses is one of the reasons they are so difficult to beat Pacheco explained.

“We need to have 80 minutes of focus from 15 guys on the field.”

It will need to be a solid team performance for the Wildcats to go into Berkeley and come out with a victory.

The game will be streamed live on Pac-12.com at 130PM WST.

The winner of each semi-final will move on to play in the Varsity Cup final at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 3rd.  The final will be aired live on NBC Sports at 4 PM EST.