Utah’s rugby football roots hail back to 1894, when Utah played the YMCA to a 4-0 match in a rugby football variation of the sport. Utah continued with the emerging game of football and Utah Rugby drifted into obscurity, as the game continued to morph into present day American Football.
The Utah Rugby Club was established in the fall of 1972 by Floyd Ormsby, a New Zealander who lived in Salt Lake City. Mr Orsmby had a passion for the game and re-introduced rugby to the University of Utah Campus.
Today, University of Utah Rugby is a nationally recognized program. In 2002, Mike Morgan earned the distinction of being Utah’s first Collegiate All-American. Today, Utah boasts over 37 Utes having been named to the Collegiate All-Americans since 2002.
Utah has placed multiple players to the U20s, U23s, and Men’s National Team Programs. Utah players Blake Burdette, Mate Moeakiola, and Threton Palamo have all played in the iRB Rugby World Cup. Jason Pye earned several Eagle Caps in XVs and competed in the iRB 7s World Cup for the Eagles and the iRB World Series. Moeakiola (06’) is currently playing professional rugby in France and Palamo (14’) will be looking to contract as well, upon finishing his football season with Utah.
Since 2000, Utah has had seven “Sweet 16” appearances, seven “Elite 8” appearances, four “Final Four” appearances, with two “National Final” appearances.
Utah’s reputation as a National 7s rugby power was forged by their 2010 1st place appearance at the Collegiate Rugby Championships (CRC), a 3rd place finish at the 2011 CRC, and a 2nd place finish at the PAC 7s in 2012.
Director, Coach Mark Drown – takes the Helm as the Director of Rugby for the 2014 season. Coach Drown has coached at the Youth, Youth Select, Collegiate, and Men’s Select levels, and is currently the Head Coach of the All-Army Rugby 7s Team. Coach Drown holds a Masters Degree in Teaching/Coaching (Humboldt State 94’) and is a Coaching Instructor for USA Rugby. Coach Drown’s primary responsibility is oversight of the Utah Program. Coach Drown will serve as the skills coach and a 7s coach for the Program.
Interim Varsity Head Coach Haloti Liava’a – is an experienced, respected coach from the Utah rugby community, and a graduate of the University of Utah (89’) where he played Football and Rugby. Coach Haloti served as a forwards coach for U19 National Club power Highland Rugby. Coach Haloti has several U19 National Titles under his watch. Coach Haloti has also served as the Forwards Coach for the Utah Select XVs, and the Utah Warriors in the Super League. Coach Haloti holds a Masters of Arts in Education from Utah.
Coach Jon Law – serves as the Varsity Assistant Coach and Technical Coach for the program. Jon’s coaching background includes; former Super League Head Coach of the Utah Warriors, Utah Select XVs, and Senior Staff Coach of Highland Rugby. Coach Law is an iRB Certified Coach under the Waikado Rugby Union of New Zealand where he returns annually for professional development.
Coach Jason Pye – serves as the Varsity 7s Head Coach and brings to the 7s Program a wealth of experience as a former Eagle XVs and 7s player. Coach Pye coached the Utes to a Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2010 and a 3rd place showing in 2011. Coach Pye is also a Utah alumnus (06’).
Coach Elvis Hansen – serves as the Forwards Coach for Utah. Coach Hansen played and graduated from BYU (84’) and brings a wealth of experience to the Program. Coach Hansen came to Utah by way of New Zealand to attend school and play rugby.
Coaches Jeff Moore – (BYU-Hawaii 91’) and Jeff Bruce (Utah State 92’) will focus their attention on the new players and cross over athletes to the program.
Players to Watch:
Nata Lauti – The crafty junior is an elusive and explosive back for Utah. Lauti comes from a family of 9 brothers and they all have, or will play at Utah. Expect to see Lauti making a run as an All American this year for Utah.
Dan “DC” Christensen – DC enters his junior year for the Utes. DC serves as Utah’s play maker and is known for his ability to exploit defensive gaps. DC is also an experienced 7s players and will be a factor for Utah’s run at a 2014 7s Title. Expect to see DC grab the attention of the All American Coaching Staff.