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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.




Varsity Cup Super Regional Roundup

Varsity Cup Super Regional Roundup

Photos by Abel Barrientes

The Varsity cup Super Regional’s saw all four top seeded teams advance to the semi-finals.  Dartmouth, Cal and Navy all had convincing victories while central Washington needed a last second score to prevent an upset.

BYU vs. Dartmouth 

After a close first half, BYU broke away for a convincing 70-15 victory over Dartmouth.

BYU played a sloppy first half and combined with Dartmouth’s strong defense and work rate, the Big Green were able to stymie the cougars.

Coach David Smyth said, “We were a little impatient. We made some ball handling errors and kept getting ahead of ourselves.”

BYU held an 8-0 advantage until a penalty by Madison Hughes cut the deficit to 8-3. With less than a minute left in the first half, it looked like this game was going to be a tight encounter.

Right before halftime, Dartmouth was searching for more points with a scrum in BYU territory. However, BYU stole the scrum and the Number 8 Joe Pikula sprinted down the field.  After several phases, flyhalf Johnny Linehan perfectly placed a cross-field kick into the arms of his winger Jordan Lowry who was able to beat a man and scramble in for a try.

The cross-field kick was effective all day, yielding a few tries for the cougars.  The New Zealand born fly half’s ability to slot kicks makes BYU incredibly hard to defend.

“It is something we work quite a bit on in practice,” Smyth said.  “Johnny is really dialed in with that and it worked for us several times today.”

The score was a huge momentum swing going into the break.  BYU led 15-3 after Linehan slotted a tough conversion.

The second half was a much different story. BYU dotted down three tries in the first six minutes on their way to a 70-15 victory.

Smith told the team at halftime to “get the ball going forward and get going in the phases.”  He was pleased with the work of his forwards, especially in the scrum.

“We have been working hard on the scrum the last couple of weeks.  The extra work really paid off.  We got Dartmouth moving backwards, putting tremendous pressure on them.”

Smyth praised Kyle Sumsion and Jordan Lowry for their work all over the field.  Sumsion led the forwards and Lowry’s speed on the wing helped the Cougars rack up points.

Dartmouth continued to play hard adding two tries.  Madison Hughes beat two BYU defenders to score down the sideline while Dawit Workie intercepted a pass and scampered 65 meters for a try.

In the end, BYU was too much for Dartmouth to handle.  The Cougars will host Navy next week.

Navy vs. Texas

In front of a home crowd, Navy eliminated Texas by the tune of a 64-10 victory

Navy dictated the pace of this game from the early stages jumping out to a 19-0 lead.  Texas responded with a try but Navy gained back momentum with their fourth score of the half.  They went into the break up 26-5.

Navy coach Mike Flanagan was very happy with the way his team opened the game.

“Physically we matched up very well.  We were bigger and imposed a bit of our own will on them.”

As they have been all season, the 9-10 combination for Navy spearheaded the attack.  Originally, scrumhalf Ricky Neel-Feller was not going to play due to a micro fracture; however, as a senior it was his last chance to play at the Navy Marine Corp Memorial Stadium.

“Ricky wanted to play and I could not tell him no in his last home game.   You want to play in this stadium. It honors our vets.  It is a cathedral of sport.”

Feller played the first half, providing quality ball for fly half Jack McAuliffe. On the day McAuliffe kicked six conversions and set up a handful of tries, really pacing the Midshipmen offense.

“Jack directed a good attack and put guys in position to score tries,” Flanagan said.  “He is a special player and we are very lucky to have him on our squad.”

The locke combination of John Thorton and David Bolinar had an outstanding game leading the Navy pack.

Chris Rixey scored threes tries in route to their 64-10 victory.

Despite the lopsided score line, Flanagan was impressed with Texas.

“They traveled a long way and put in a solid effort.  Their set piece was very good and I would say that they had advantage in the scrum.”

Moving forward Navy will need to build upon the things they did well and correct some of their mistakes.

“We did a good job when we kept the ball in our hands.  When we forced the issue, we didn’t do such a good job.”

Overall, Navy played a solid defensive game and will need to bring the same kind of intensity on defense when they travel to Utah to take on BYU.

Cal vs. UCLA

In their third meeting of the season, Cal blanked UCLA 41-0 to reach the semi-finals.

Captain and United States Eagle Seamus got Cal on the board in the six minute mark then double his try total several minutes later giving Cal a 12-0 lead.  The Golden Bears added two more tries before the break giving them a 24-0 lead.

In the second half, UCLA pushed the Cal defense but it ultimately did not break.  Bruin inside center Sam Sirrel had a number of solid runs and almost scored if not for the ball being stripped on the try line.

The Bruins had an opportunity when scrumhalf Paul Bosco and Harry Adolphus were both yellow carded with in minutes of each other.  The Bears played four minutes with 13 men on the field, yet they did not yield any points.

Seamus Kelly told Cal reporters “We gave each other a look and though there wasn’t much said, we all knew what had to be done. I was happy with how we responded after that. We gritted out teeth and got it done.”

Cal was able to keep the ball out of its own territory and while still down a man Brad Harrington notched his second try of the game.  A few minutes later Scott Walsh tallied his second score.

Seamus Kelly put the exclamation point on the victory by getting the hat trick with a minute left to play.

Cal will host Central Washington next weekend.

Central Washington vs. Utah

The most exciting match of the day saw Central Washington barely escape with a victory over Utah.  A penalty goal from Josh Bower as time expired gave the Wildcats a 25-24 victory over the Utes.

After a 10 all tie at half, Central Washington broke the deadlock with a converted try. Utah would not go away an eventually matched the score evening the game at 17.

With 15 minutes left to play Central Washington scored an unconverted try giving it a 22-17 lead.  However, the Wildcats mishandled the ensuing kickoff allowing a Utah player to streak the through its defense and score a try.  After converting the try Utah led 24-22.

Utah held the lead until roughly 90 seconds left in the match.  Central Washington earned a penalty more than 40 yards out.  Josh Bower nailed the long penalty giving the victory to Central Washington.

Mental and physical mistakes plagued the Wildcats all day.

Coach Tony Pacheco indicated, “We lacked discipline and committed too many penalties. Every time we got them defending in their own end we committed a penalty that forced us back into our own territory

One could argue that Utah’s competitiveness at the breakdown caused Central Washington to commit so many penalties.

“We never really got into an attacking rhythm.  Utah competed like mad men at the tackle contest and were able to slow down our ball quite a bit,” said Pacheco.

Central Washington’s ability to overcome adversity says a tremendous amount about the team.  This was the first game the Wildcats were truly tested this season.

“This is definitely a character building win.  We were able to stick it out and find a way to get a win.  Those type of wins undoubtedly help you.”

Tanner Barnes led the Wildcats with two tries and senior flanker Jacob Bates added another.

Pachecho stated, “Both men really stepped up today and were outstanding.” He added that without Bower’s solid kicking performance the team would probably not have been victorious.

Central Washington will travel to Berkeley to take on Cal next week.

The semi-finals take place next week with Cal and BYU hosting.  Central Washington will return to California to take on the Golden Bears.  The situation will be flipped for Navy and BYU as the Midshipmen will head to Provo to play the Cougars next weekend.

Super Regional Score Updates

Super Regional Score Updates

East Bracket

BYU: 15 Dartmouth: 3 (Half)  |  BYU: 70 Dartmouth: 15  (Final)

Texas: 5 Navy: 26 (Half) | Texas: 10 Navy: 64 (Final)

Read: East Coast Super Regional Wrapup by This Is American Rugby

Read: BYU Super Regional Match Report by BYU Rugby

West Bracket

Central Washington: 10  Utah: 10 (Half) | Central Washington: 25  Utah: 24 (Final)

Cal: 24 UCLA: 0 (Half) | Cal: 41  UCLA: 0 (Final)

Read: Cal Bears Into Semis With 41-0 Win At UCLA by Cal Athletics 

Match Minutes

BYU vs. Dartmouth

13:25- BYU- Try-Joshua Whippy. Conversion no good, kick by Jonny Linehan. 5-0
30:02- BYU- Penalty kick- Jonny Linehan, kick is good. 8-0
31:58- Dartmouth- Penalty kick- Madison Hughes #15 – kick good. 8-3
40:35- BYU- Try- Jordan Lowry, Conversion good, kick by Jonny Linehan. 15-3


44:00- BYU- Try- Kody Thompson. Conversion good by Linehan. 22-3.
45:00- BYU- Try- Paul Lasike. Conversion good by Linehan. 29-3
49:21- BYU- Try- Jonny Linehan. Conversion good by Linehan. 36-3
52:00- Dartmouth- Try- Madison Hughes #15 Conversion no good by Madison Hughes #15. 36-8
54:29- BYU- Try- Kyle Sumsion- Conversion good by Linehan. 43-8
60:11- Dartmouth- Try- Dawit Workie – Conversion good by Madison Hughes. 42-15
62:00- BYU- Try- Chris Wernli- Conversion good by Linehan. 50-15
65:26- BYU- Try- Joshua Whippy- Conversion no good. 55-15
68:49- BYU- Penalty kick good by Linehan. 58-15
73:05- BYU-Try- Joe Pikula- Conversion good by Linehan. 65-15
80:10- BYU- Try- Jordan Lowry- Conversion no good by Linehan. 70-15

Navy vs. Texas
Flanker Beau Bartlett Conversion by jack McAuliffe
Winger Cyrus Wilson. Missed Conversion jack McAuliffe
Missed penalty by McAuliffe
Hooker joe dipietro conversion by Mcaulliffe
Flyhalf Taylor – TEXAS
Eight man Chris Rixey conversion by McAuliffe
Half – 26-5
Eight man Chris Rixey. Conversion by Mcaulliffe
Flanker Spencer Wilson conversion by mcaullife
Flanker beau Bartlett conversion by Daniel page
Winger Brandon Willis conversion by mccaullife
Winger Alexander Johnson missed conversion by Mcaulliffe
Eight man Chris Rixey missed conversion by Mcaulliffe

Central Washington vs. Utah
4th minute: Utah try #13 Scott Strong. Conversion missed
9th min: Central Washington yellow card #1 Clinton Lemkus. Punch
18th min: Central Washington penalty #11 Josh Bower
28th min: Central Washington try #6 Jacob Bates. Conversion good #11 Josh Bower
40th min: Utah try #4 Austin Taylor. Conversion missed.
Half time: 10-10
48th min: Central Washington try #12 Tanner Barnes. Conversion good #11 Josh Bower
57th min: Utah try #14 Taylor Thomas. Conversion good Tonata Lauti
63rd min: Utah try #12 Tonata Lauti. Conversion missed
65th min: Utah try #8 Jacob Morrison. Conversion good #15 Drake Meyers
79th min: Central Washington penalty #11 Josh Bower

Cal vs. UCLA
6th min: Cal try #13 Seamus Kelly. conversion missed
14th min: Cal try #13 Seamus Kelly. Conversion good #15 Jake Anderson
24th min: Cal try #12 Brad Harrington. Conversion missed
34th min: Cal try #1 Scott Walsh. Conversion missed
Half time: Cal 24-UCLA 0
48th min: Cal yellow card #9 Paul Bosco. Cynical play
54th min: Cal yellow card #11 Harry Adolphus. High tackle
64th min: Cal try #12 Brad Harrington. Conversion missed
66th min: Cal try #1 Scott Walsh. Conversion good #15 Jake Anderson
79th min: Cal try #13 Seamus Kelly. Conversion missed
Full Time: Cal 41-UCLA 0

Stage Set For Varsity Cup Super Regional Round

Stage Set For Varsity Cup Super Regional Round

Round One was filled with some high scoring, action packed rugby. Round Two should be more of the same as eight of the best rugby programs battle in quarterfinal action.

Unlike last week, two venues will play host to two quarterfinal matchups. In the east, Navy will welcome its opponents Texas as well as another contest between BYU and Dartmouth. Out west, UCLA will host 2nd seeded Cal and the game between Central Washington and Utah.

With four exciting games on tap this weekend be sure to attend one of the two venues or catch a live stream of the events.

Navy is incredibly excited to be hosting its second Varsity Cup Super Regional. Senior Associate Athletic Director Robert Dunn has put together a successful event in the past and plans to replicate the success.

“We consider rugby to be a very important sport at the Naval Academy and try to give it as much attention as any other sport on campus.”

The games will take place at Navy Marine Core Memorial Stadium, the home of the football team. Last year there was a large crowd and they are expecting similar numbers this year.

“There was over a 1000 people last year that came out to support the Midshipmen and rugby in general. This is not just about supporting Navy rugby but supporting the local rugby community.”

If you are not able to make it to Annapolis this weekend, a live stream of the games can be found at Navysports.com. The games will also be aired on the Patriot League Network.

East Super Regional

BYU V Dartmouth

BlMQfOtCEAAyMObComing off a 59-24 victory over Clemson, Dartmouth travels to Annapolis to take on the defending Varsity Cup champions BYU.

Madison Hughes spearheads a quality Dartmouth back line that contributed half a dozen tries last week.

As potent as Dartmouth’s offense can be, the question mark this week will be how well there defensive line can hold up against a set of very talented BYU backs.
With the bulk of Clemson’s offense coming through its forwards, its backline failed to garner any continuity and rarely tested the Dartmouth defense.

Led by New Zealand born flyhalf Johnny Linehan, BYU features a solid kicking game and possesses the ability to move the ball wide. Linehan’s drop goal as time expired in last year’s final really showcased his foreign born ability.

The BYU pack is not to be outdone. Bolstered by flanker Kyle Sumsion, his combination of power and game awareness is often unmatched at the collegiate level. It is no surprise that this flanker has experience on the international stage.

BYU last met Dartmouth in the 2009 DIA playoffs. They defeated the Big Green 26-5 on the way to their first national title.

Having not played Dartmouth in years, BYU Coach David Smyth is unsure what to expect. He stated to BYU reporters that “we haven’t played Dartmouth in few years so we’re a little unfamiliar with how we’ll match up against them. Our boys will need to work hard to get ready for the challenges a team like Dartmouth brings.”

BYU’s size should play to their advantage in this contest. Dartmouth features a small, athletic pack. Look for the powerful BYU forwards to disrupt the Dartmouth set piece. If Dartmouth fails to provide a platform for its backs, it could be a long day for the men in Green.

The winner of this game will play the winner of Navy V Texas.

Navy V Texas

Navy will host a Texas squad that has done a tremendous amount of traveling in the past two weeks. After visiting South Bend last week, the Longhorns will travel to Annapolis for a date with the Midshipmen.

Navy is incredibly excited about hosting the Super Regional. Coach Mike Flanagan indicated that it is not easy to travel long distances and be ready to play a physical game of rugby.

“Playing at home is a big advantage for us. We have been on the traveling end and it is a difficult thing to do.”

While Navy waits for Texas, they are focused on playing their own game.

“We believe we can attack and defend with anyone,” Flanagan mentioned. “We are focused on playing our own game and seeing where the chips fall.”

Although the Midshipmen are focused inward, they are aware that Texas plays a high standard of rugby and will need to match the intensity.

Navy is usually led by the 9-10 combination of Rickey Neel-Feller and Jack McAuliffe. However, Feller has been battling a micro fracture in his thumb and will miss his third consecutive week of action. Should Navy advance, Flanagan is confident Feller will be able to participate in the semi-finals.

Complimenting McAuliffe on the back line is the center combination of Ian Sugg and Sam Gideon. Anchoring a strong pack is locke Damon Johnson and flanker Spencer Wilson.

Ealier this season Navy easily defeated Dartmouth 77-5. Texas is aware of Navy’s ability and understands that challenge that awaits them. Coach Chris Hopps praised Navy.

“We know we will be up against it when we travel to Navy. They are a quality side and we will need to continue to up the intensity in order to compete.”

Texas will need another strong game from flyhalf Carson Youman. It will need to continue to link after line-breaks in order to put up enough points to win this game.

Look for this one to be a very fast paced contest with fitness playing a large part in the outcome.

The winner will take on either BYU or Dartmouth

West Super Regional



In the most intriguing matchup of the weekend, last year’s runner up the University of California travels to UCLA to take on the Bruins.  Coming off a solid victory, UCLA looks to maintain its momentum against a traditionally strong Cal side.

Despite handily beating Oklahoma, UCLA is well aware that Cal is a much stauncher opponent.  Nevertheless, they are looking forward to the challenge.

“We are excited to play Cal.  They always give us a test to where we are as a program having been so great for so long,” Bruin Coach Scott Stewart told reporters.

Currently ranked 4th  and 5th respectively, Cal and UCLA have already met twice this season.

Cal defeated UCLA in the Dennis Storer Classic final 18-3 and later in the season in PAC action 32-10.  Cal overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit to beat the Bruins in the second contest.

Having met twice this season, the two sides are very familiar with one other.

“We know what they are going to bring it.” Stewart added.  “We must build the intensity through the week so we are firing on all cylinders come game time.  We must make sure we are in good position and hang onto possession.  A team like Cal smells blood so we must limit our mistakes.”

Cal is currently 16-2 after suffering two consecutive losses, the first of which came against the Canadian school British Colombia.  Cal’s only other blemish came against the favorite to win the DIA title and number one ranked St. Marys.

Current USA Eagle Seamus Kelly leads Cal’s powerful squad.  The 2013 CRC MVP anchors a potent Cal backline.  A strong tackler and a powerful runner, Kelly brings experience to an incredibly deep Cal roster.

Fellow backs Jake Anderson, Harry Adolphus and Russell Webb are all viable attacking options that have caused headaches for opponents all season.

Cal has no shortage of injuries, losing winger Josh Tucker and hooker Michael Bush to season ending ailments.  However, due to the team’s depth, Cal is confident in its ability to get its 3rd win over a strong UCLA side.

“No doubt we are patching our team together, but we feel strangely calm,” said head coach Jack Clark. “We can still field a strong team and we’re capable of defeating the Bruins. We need to play hard and mostly well, but we can win.”

Despite the injuries and a formidable opponent Clark is confident in the Golden Bears.

Coach Clark said his belief in the Bears’ ability to beat the Bruins in the Super Regional “takes nothing away from UCLA. They have proven they are a top team, solid in every area of play. They are well coached and have excellent team leadership. They’ve earned our respect.”

With victories over Utah, UCLA and Dartmouth, Cal has beaten three of the remaining Varsity Cup participants this year.

The winner of this contest will play the survivor of Central Washington and Utah.

Central Washington V Utah

After eliminating Air Force last weekend, Utah will play Central Washington. The Wildcats handily defeated Oregon for the NCRC conference title and sit at a perfect 13-0.

Central Washington recently announced the program is going Varsity. Head Coach Tony Pacheco is excited by the decision.

“After years of success, the program is finally getting the additional support they deserve. The additional resources will help in the development of our players.”

The Wildcats have been putting up points in bunches this season having scored over 90 points several times. Captain and All-American Tanner Barnes leads Central Washington. Playing the outside center position, he is smart, strong and a great defender.

Also Driving Central Washington’s engine is All-American prop Clint Lentus.

“He brings a lot of physicality to the game, is a solid scrummager, and leads our pack around the field,” Pacheco added.

Lentus will be extremely important this week as Utah is very strong on the set piece. The Wildcats preparation has focused on winning the set piece battle and being ready for Utah’s fast speed of play.

Pacheco indicated “Utah puts a lot of pressure on set pieces. They also have plenty of weapons and love to play fast. We must maintain our defensive shape because Utah is known for its ability to offload the ball or throw a miss pass that exposes a defense.”

Central Washington is excited about its prospects in the Varsity Cup. Their experience in last years Varsity Cup has prepared them to make some noise this year.

“We know what it is going to take now to get to the final. We needed to be fitter, be stronger and put 80 minutes together for three straight games. Last week was our best 80 minutes of rugby all season and I am excited to participate in the Varsity Cup.”

The Wildcats opponent may, however, be their toughest opponent of the season. Utah is battle tested this year having played Cal, BYU and UCLA. All three games were fairly tight contests implying Central Washington will have a very tough encounter.

The winner of this game will play either UCLA or Cal.

Bracket (1)

Round 1 Recap: Dartmouth, Texas, UCLA, Utah Advance

Round 1 Recap: Dartmouth, Texas, UCLA, Utah Advance

Photo Credit: Air Force Academy

The first round of the Varsity Cup is in the books.   Both Texas and Utah won on the road while Dartmouth and UCLA won comfortably on their home fields.

Dartmouth v Clemson

The first Varsity Cup match featured a high scoring affair with Dartmouth defeating Clemson 59-24.

With a heavy wind at their back in the first half, Dartmouth jumped out to an early lead on a Madison Hughes try.  Hughes received a great offload from freshman flyhalf Dawit Workie and scampered 40 yards for a try under the posts.  It was the first of his three tries to lead the Big Green.

Several minutes later Dartmouth doubled up thanks to a tremendous skip pass thrown by Hughes.  Hughes found winger Kevin Clark who easily out flanked his counterpart giving Dartmouth a 12-0 advantage.  Hughes’ second conversion gave the Big Green a 14-0 lead.

Clemson battled back thanks in large part to there very mobile and strong pack.  It was clear from the onset that Clemson hoped to use their forwards to control the pace and momentum of the contest.  Freshman Number 8 Jimmy Damm had a tremendous game, notching Clemson’s first try.  A powerful runner, Damm added a second try later in the contest.

Clemson made the fatal mistake of allowing the ensuing kickoff to bounce.  They subsequently took a penalty giving the Big Green a lineout inside their own 22.  Dartmouth capitalized immediately via Hughes.  Hughes broke the Clemson line with a shifty side step and dotted down under the posts for Dartmouth’s third converted try.

Hughes finished off his hat trick with four minutes to go in the half and Brian Flint added another Dartmouth score two minutes later for a 33-5 lead.

Clemson continued to battle cutting the deficit just before halftime.  A great grubber kick from fullback Grant Keers allowed the Tigers to score and gain some momentum going into the break.  The halftime score was 33-12 in favor of Dartmouth.

Clemson came out strong to begin the second half with the wind at their backs.  However, a turnover in the opponents 22 allowed Dartmouth outside center Robbie Anthony to make a long run leading to a Victor Muchatuta try.

Inconsistency and missed opportunity plagued Clemson all day.  Each time Clemson gained some momentum, they allowed Dartmouth to regain momentum with easy scores.

The teams exchanged scores, and then the Clemson pack added another try.  On the ensuing kickoff, Hughes cleverly fielded his own grubber kick in front of an unprepared Clemson side.  Linking with Neil Greene Dartmouth moved down the field for another score.

The Dartmouth score seemingly ended Clemson’s chances of getting back into the contest.  To their credit, they continued to fight until the final whistle.

The game ended with the final score of 59-24.  Clemson had no answers for Dartmouth explosive backline, yielding the most points they have given up all season.

Dartmouth will travel to Annapolis next weekend to take on BYU.

Texas vs Notre Dame

Texas Upended Notre Dame 55-33 for its first ever Varsity Cup win.

It was the dream start for a Texas squad that traveled all the way from Austin to South Bend by bus.  Notre Dame fumbled the opening kickoff allowing one of the Texas players to scoop up the ball and dart his way through the Notre Dame defense for a converted try seconds into the match.

Within five minutes of the opening whistle, Texas added a second converted try giving them an early 14-0 lead.

Notre Dame, stunned by the early punch in the mouth, reset and started dictating the pace of play and added a try of their own.  The sides then exchanged another set of tries resulting in a 19-12 lead for the Longhorns.

Towards the end of a mostly back and forth first half, Texas puts its stamp on the game.  Scoring three unanswered tries before halftime and adding another post the break, the Longhorns created an insurmountable 43-12 lead.

Notre Dame continued to fight its way back into the game but ultimately fell 55-33 on their home turf.

Texas was able to break down a pretty disciplined defense thanks in large part to the patient play of freshman flyhalf Carson Youmen and quality support outlets after line breaks.

“Youman’s attacking decisions were excellent.” Coach Chris Hopps told reporters. “We were able to attack with support and offloaded at opportune times.  Things just kind of clicked.”

Flanker Raphael Lopez was awarded man of the match honors for his consistent line breaks. He scored a try and assisted on several others.

Texas has the long ride home to rejoice in its win but no knows it will have an even tougher contest against Navy next weekend.

“This was a big win for the program and I am really proud of our guys,” Hopps added.  “We know it will be an even more difficult next week but our guys are looking forward to the challenge.”

Texas will travel to Annapolis to take on Navy.

Oklahoma v UCLA

UCLA overmatched a young and inexperienced Oklahoma side to the tune of a 77-12 victory.

UCLA jumped out to an early 24-0 lead before Oklahoma answered with a try at the twenty-minute mark. The Bruins controlled the momentum of the rest of the first half going into the break up 31-5.

Hooker Matt Frederickson and Number 8 Jackson Welch led a solid Bruin pack that dominated the set piece all day.  UCLA dominated the scrum, especially on sooner put ins allowing UCLA to keep a majority of possession.

“We were very successful on set pieces. It allowed us to put consistent pressure on Oklahoma all day, Coach Scott Stewart told United World Sports.

In addition to the set piece, UCLA used a very effective kicking game to isolate the Oklahoma fullback.  They forced several penalties and turnovers resulting in a handful of Bruin scores.

Oklahoma coach Jason Horowitz praised UCLA’s ability to attack off of the broken play and penalties.

“Their technical ability and decision making was superb,” Horowitz commented.  “They were able to create many overloads and punish us for failing to keep our defensive shape.”

Despite the lopsided score line, Stewart indicated that Oklahoma played a very physical game and were very fit as a team.

Due to injuries the Sooners only traveled with 19 players, including several that only one or two games of rugby experience.  They were without Captain Michael Al-Jiboori and ended up finishing the game with 14 players due to several injuries during the game.

Although Oklahoma struggled to compete with UCLA, there is plenty of optimism moving forward. With only three seniors graduating, and a strong incoming freshman class, look for Oklahoma to continue to improve and make some noise in future Varsity Cups.

UCLA will host Cal next weekend in a matchup of bitter rivals.

Utah v Air Force

After falling to BYU in the Wasatch Cup a week earlier, Utah bounced back with a 71-24 trouncing of Air Force.

Air Force jumped out to an early lead with a streaking try on the flank.  They broke the line several times and ended up dotting down for a 5-0 advantage.

Utah Coach Mark Brown stated, “we thought we were going to a have a dogfight on our hand but we were able to gain control of the game despite them scoring first.”

Utah bounced back immediately and the floodgates opened after their first score. Scores came from various forms but Taylor Thomas scored four tries from his wing position.

Little things killed Air Force all afternoon.  They missed several key tackles and suffered from poor defensive shape.  Utah exposed the holes and Air Force was never able to recover.

Nata Lauti had a very solid day with the boot despite a stiff wind. Scott Strong and Matt Ball contributed solid games of rugby in the win.

The Utes were solid on set pieces stealing many Air Force scrum put-ins and lineouts.  As a result, Air force struggled to gain any continuity.  Offensively they relied heavily on individual efforts and could not keep up with the dynamic Utah attack.

Utah will travel to UCLA to take on Central Washington next weekend.


Round 1 Scores

Round 1 Scores

After four lopsided results in the opening round, the Varsity Cup Super Regionals are set. In Annapolis, Md. Apr. 19, Dartmouth will meet BYU, and Texas will face Navy. The same day at UCLA, the host Bruins will play Cal, and Utah will spar with Central Washington.

Dartmouth advanced to the Super Regional with a 59-24 defeat of Clemson Saturday in Hanover, NH. The Big Green were anchored by All-American and capped Eagle Madison Hughes, who led all scorers with three tries in the contest. Senior wing Kevin Clark chipped in two, as well. Dartmouth led 33-12 at halftime and were never in any real danger. Clemson No. 8 Jason Damm scored twice for the Tigers.

In Westwood, Calif., the Bruins handled Oklahoma to the tune of 77-12, and in Colorado Springs, Colo., Utah downed Air Force in similar fashion – 71-24.

The closest contest of the day wasn’t that close, as Texas traveled to South Bend, Ind. and beat the Fighting Irish 55-33. Notre Dame put some points on the board, but were down seven-tries-to-two just after halftime. Three Longhorns dotted down twice in the win – Peter Hyams, fullback Felix Olazaran and scrumhalf John Boudreaux.


Team Points Team Points
Dartmouth 59 Clemson 24
UCLA 77 Oklahoma 12
Texas 55 Notre Dame 33
Utah 71 Air Force 24


Varsity Cup Set To Kick Off

Varsity Cup Set To Kick Off

After months of conference play, tours, and tournaments, the first round of the Varsity Cup is finally upon us. All of the participating schools have been playing a tremendous amount of rugby, gearing up to be crowned the next Varsity Cup champions. With the first round of play commencing this weekend, here is a first look at the four opening round matchups.

Clemson V Dartmouth

Untitled-1Rugbymag’s 16th ranked Clemson Tigers travel to Hanover, New Hampshire to take on the Ivy champions and 22nd ranked Dartmouth. Dartmouth recently defeated Harvard 52-3 to take its fifth consecutive Ivy League Title.

Dartmouth’s recent wins over Penn and Harvard are bounce back games after a rocky tour. Traveling to the West Coast, the Big Green fell to fellow Varsity cup participants Cal, 99-7 and Cal Poly. With several players returning from other commitments, the side is much stronger coming into this weekend.

Returning, most notably, is USA Sevens player Madison Hughes. Hughes missed the west coast tour while participating in the HSBC World Series for the Eagles.

Hughes and senior leadership pace the Big Green. Kevin Clark is an explosive wing with the ability to break tackles, while scrumhalf John Descalzi quarterbacks a potent Dartmouth attack. Forwards Dylan Jones and Neil Greene really stepped up in a solid effort over Harvard.

After going undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Rugby League play, the tigers ultimately fell in the ACRC quarter-finals to a now suspended Penn State squad. Hoping to prepare itself for a rigorous competition, Clemson scheduled Life University, Davenport, Wheeling Jesuit University and DII final four James Madison as opponents this spring.

The first two games of the spring were rocky for the Tigers as they fell to Life University 45-24 and to Davenport 46-0. Clemson bounced back, however, winning its two most recent contests.

In its final two matchups before the Varsity Cup, Clemson defeated Wheeling Jesuit 42-14 and James Madison 33-20. The Tigers hope to carry the momentum into this weekend.

The winner will take on BYU in the quarter finals.

Texas V Notre Dame

Untitled-1The second matchup features Texas University traveling to South Bend to face Notre Dame University.

Notre Dame is coming off a series of losses. The Fighting Irish lost to Western Michigan 29-17 and followed it up with a loss to Arizona in the Parseghian Research Foundation game.

Nevertheless, Notre Dame possesses a very skilled and disciplined squad. Very Strong defensively, Notre Dame will certainly challenge Texas to get over the gain line.

Sporting a brand new complex, the game is sure to generate a large crowd.

Texas faces an uphill battle as one of the newcomers to the Varsity Cup. Although the Longhorns won the Southwestern conference title they have recently faced some stiff competition. Losing 38-0 to fellow Varsity Cup competitor Oklahoma, and tough losses to Wisconsin and Army have prepared the Longhorns for a battle with Notre Dame.

The Longhorns live and die by the mantra “dedication, commitment, discipline,” head coach Chris Hopps told United World Sports. Preparing for the game, Texas has taken a mental and physical approach with the emphasis on commitment.

Leading the charge for the Longhorns is freshman flyalf Carson Youman. He will need to make crisp passes and have good decision making skills if Texas is going to break down a disciplined Notre Dame defense.

Texas needs big games from senior tight head prop Danny Camara and Captain Peter Hyams in order to move on in the competition.

The winner will battle Navy in the quarterfinals

Oklahoma v UCLA

Untitled-1Oklahoma travels to UCLA to take on the 6th ranked Bruins. The Allied Collegiate Division 1A champs look to flex their muscles against a talented UCLA team.

Oklahoma is excited to be playing a program that they do not frequently get to play and a program that is of the quality of UCLA.

Coach Jason Horowitz indicated “this is an opportunity for us to align ourselves with the quality athletic brands in the country and challenge us to play some of the best programs in the country.

Oklahoma has one of the youngest squads in the country with only three seniors on its roster. Predominantly freshman and sophomores, the Sooners will be starting freshman, Facundo Gatica of Argentina at flyhalf.

Newcomer Jayce Crowder spearheads the Oklahoma pack while Captain Michael Al Jiboori solidifies the backs. These two have been the anchors of a consistently changing lineup due to experimentation and injury.

One could make an argument that based on 2013/2014 performances, UCLA should have been granted a first round bye. The Bruins finished second in the PAC rugby conference to a strong Cal side. The Bruins tested Cal but ended up falling 32-10 in conference action.

Seb Sharpe who excelled last year in UCLA’s upset win over Dartmouth at the CRC leads the Bruins.

This is the first ever meeting between the Bruins and the Sooner. Cal awaits the winner in the quarter-finals.

Utah V Air Force

Untitled-1The PAC third place finishers travel to Colorado to take on the Zoomies of Air Force.

Despite finishing third in the PAC rugby conference, Utah will be quite the challenge for the servicemen. Utah is well tested this season as they have faced Cal, UCLA and BYU this season.

Currently ranked ninth by Rugbymag, Utah recently played 3rd ranked in-state rival BYU for the Wasatch Cup. BYU ultimately proved to be too much for a tough Utes side prevailing 41-21.

Utah plays a very physical game, which Air Force is all too familiar with.

“We play Utah every year and it is usually a tight game, Air Force coach Joe Muehlbauer stated to United World Sports. “They played both Cal and BYU tough and will an extremely difficult challenge for us.”

Air Force comes into the weekend with a decisive win under their belt. Handily beating Colorado State, the Zoomies look to build upon the momentum of their recent league win.

Air Force is led by Number 8 and three-time All American Senior Jack Bristol.

“Big players step up in big games. Jack has been leading us all season and I expect nothing less this weekend.”

Bristol’s fellow Seniors flyhalf Joe Rippe and inside center Eric Schreck have been big parts of the Zoomies success this season and will need to put in big performances in order to beat the Utes.

The winner will advance to take on Central Washington University in the next round.

The next four weeks is sure to be filled with quality rugby. The two teams that are left standing will play for the Varsity Cup Championship on May 3rd at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tickets for the May 3rd Championship Final are on sale now at varsitycup.us.

• Tier I: $30.00 – premium lower-level, mid-pitch seating. Limited availability; perfect for those fans who want to be at the center of the action.

• Tier II: $20.00 – quality mid-level seating located at the try lines – a great value for families.

Tier III: $10.00 – price friendly located in the upper-level and try zones.