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Air Force

Utah Thwarts Air Force Comeback in Varsity Cup

Utah Thwarts Air Force Comeback in Varsity Cup

by Brett Anker

In the most thrilling game of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup opening round, Utah edged Air Force 36-31. The Utes blew a late lead but managed to score with under five minutes to play snatch the victory from the Zoomies.

“That was the kind of game that was probably great for the fans but terrible for the coaches,” Utah coach Jon Law said of the back and forth contest.

Taylor Thomas opened the scoring for the Utes. The winger just returned from injury and made a huge impact on the game. Thomas scored the eventual game winner late in the second half.

“Taylor’s performance today was gutty. He was still missing a bit of his step. He is ok linearly but laterally he is not what he was. He is coming back from a knee injury,” added Law. “Most of the season we have been playing him at outside center and we felt that today he was a better matchup at wing.”

Fellow back line player Casey Raymond scored again for Utah before Air Force got on the board. The Zoomies responded, however, with two tries to take a 12-10 lead. The pendulum swung back in favor of Utah after the two Zoomie scores, with Gabe Ruflin and Josh Webber dotting down for Utah. At the half, Utah went in with a 22-12 lead.

Air Force struck back early in the second half but Utah once again stymied its momentum. Adding two more tries, the Utes led 29-19 with less than 10 minutes to play. Utah seemingly dodged a few bullets as well, as Air Force had two tries called back. One try was called back for a knock and the other the referee awarded a penalty to Utah.

Things started to get interesting, however. Air Force barged in for a try to cut the lead to 29-24. Minutes later, the Zoomies were deep in their own territory and not looking dangerous. All of a sudden, Air force busted through the line for a 60-meter run. Braden Smith received an offload and sprinted the rest of the way for a try under the posts. With the conversion, Air Force led 31-29.

“All credit to Air Force. As is to be expected from Air Force, or for that matter any service academy. They know of no other way to play for a full 80,” Law added.

Utah kicked off with very little time left but managed to get a turnover deep in Air Force territory. After a few phases, Thomas found space out wide and scampered in for the game winning score.

The Utes showed a lot of grit in this game. Coming into the weekend, nearly the entire team had come down with the flu. Law indicated that they were a bit sluggish on their recycling and support but got the job done nonetheless.

2016 Opening Round Match Schedule | April 9th

2016 Opening Round Match Schedule | April 9th

VARSITY CUP OPENING ROUND MATCH SCHEDULE | APRIL 9TH:

Army vs. Oklahoma

Location: Anderson Rugby Complex, River Rd., West Point, NY 10996
Time: 3:00 PM EDT
Webcast: Army “Knight Vision” (http://goarmywestpoint.com/watch)

Arizona State vs. BYU

Location: ASU Poly Campus, 7001 E. Williams Field Rd., Mesa, AZ 85212
Time: 7:00 PM MST

Arkansas State vs. Clemson

Location: ASU Rugby Pitch, 501 Red Wolf Trail Rd., Jonesboro, AR 72401
Time: 1:30 PM CDT

Cal vs. Texas

Location: Witter Rugby Field, 210 Stadium Rim Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
Time: 12:00 PM PDT

CWU vs. UCLA

Location: CWU Wildcat Rugby Field, Ellensburg, WA 98926
Time: 1:00 PM PDT
Webcast: Wildcat “Event Zone” (www.wildcatsports.com)

Dartmouth vs. Penn State

Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Webcast: Live on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EIwkyCQ3AI)

Navy vs. Notre Dame

Location: Naval Academy Brigade Sports Complex, 64 Greenbury Point Rd., Annapolis, MD 21402
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Webcast: TBD

Utah vs. Air Force

Location: McCarthy Field, 76 S. Wasatch Dr., Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Time: 12:00 PM MDT
Webcast: KUTE Radio (http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/h06yz)

Utah vs. Air Force | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Utah vs. Air Force | 2016 Opening Round Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 1 Recap: UCLA Outlasts Air Force to Advance to the Quarter Finals

Round 1 Recap: UCLA Outlasts Air Force to Advance to the Quarter Finals

UCLA used a strong second half to outlast Air Force 27-12 in Westwood, Calif. Seb Sharpe led the way with a second half hat trick to propel the Bruins into the second round of the Varsity Cup.

The Bruins opened the scoring early with a penalty from Ben Francis. However, that was all the scoring the home side would do in the first half. A combination of unforced errors and excellent defense from the visitors kept UCLA at bay.

“In the first half we made some errors, forced passes and took some penalties that were not disciplined,” said UCLA coach Scott Stewart. “Credit to Air Force, they were defending and tackling very well.”

Air Force took a 7-3 lead with some hard and direct running. “They had the better of us in the first half,” Stewart added” The Zoomies were led by number 8 Garrett Jameson and the rest of the pack that put in a very physical and disciplined first half. Air Force only conceded one penalty in the first stanza.

UCLA made some tactical and personnel changes at halftime and were able to score two tries within a minute of each other. After the Bruins scored the first one, the crowd got into the game and immediately off the ensuing kickoff, UCLA broke the line and dotted down to take a 17-7 lead. Sharpe got both scores and after a penalty extended the lead to 26-7 with his third score of the half.

“He was under used,” Stewart said of Sharpe in the first half. “We got him in the game and he found the work himself. It was good to see him getting involved in the game and supporting other players on the team.”

The Bruins controlled play for the rest of the game, putting in a real team effort in the second half. Air Force salvaged one more try late in the game to cut the score to 26-12. Unfortunately, for Air Force, it was too little too late.

Overall Stewart was very happy with his squad’s performance. “For the most part, I thought we played pretty well in terms of possession and territory.”

The Bruins will host reigning Varsity Cup Champions, BYU, next weekend.

Round 1 Preview: UCLA vs. Air Force

Round 1 Preview: UCLA vs. Air Force

In Westwood, Calif., UCLA will host the Air Force Academy. The winner of this match will face off with BYU in round two of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.

It has been an up and down season for the Bruins this year, finishing in the middle of the pack in the PAC Conference. UCLA blew a large lead against Arizona State and were defeated handily by Utah, yet played Cal to an incredibly tight game, defeated Arizona and beat up Oregon St.

“Inconsistent has been what has been consistent,” said UCLA coach Scott Stewart “There has been some good play at time but not on a week to week basis. In games we have lost we have had good moments but have not been able to close out. It is something we have to improve on now that we are at the business end of the schedule.”

Despite the rocky season, Stewart is pleased with the recent weeks of practice and believes his team can make a deep run into the Varsity Cup. “We have had some good camps over the break here and has been useful for us. Hopefully that pays dividends for us when we play over the weekend.”

ULCA has not played Air Force for several years and is looking forward to playing the Zoomies this weekend. “We know that they are going to be physical and there are some really good athletes on the team,” added Stewart. “Our work is cut out for us.”

For Air Force, the Zoomies come into the Varsity Cup after playing a challenging Western Conference schedule. Finishing 7-1 in conference action, their only blemish in league play came against Colorado State. The Zoomies also battled both other service academies, defeating Navy 38-26 and falling late to Army 19-17 at West Point.

“We have a tough conference and every team we played gave us a tough game,” said Air Force coach Joe Muehlbauer. “We do try to play some of the big boys also. You are not going to get better by playing the Little Sisters of the Poor.”

The Bruins will prove to be another tough test for the Zommies.

“UCLA is a very good team and we can’t make any mistakes. We have to keep the mistakes to a minimum. There the type of team that any misstep or knock on they attack and they are hard to handle when they get on the front foot,” added Muehlbauer.

This game could come down to a battle of scrumhalfs, and who can better command his team’s offense. The diminutive but incredibly feisty and illusive Victor Woo, leads Air Force while Brad Penny commands the UCLA team.

Both teams rely heavily on a number of upperclassmen in the pack. Zach Bonte and Pierre Courpron lead the way for UCLA while Garrett Jameson at number 8 spearheads the Air Force forwards.

The game will kick off at 4PM ET.

CWU Upends Air Force to Set Up Meeting with BYU

CWU Upends Air Force to Set Up Meeting with BYU

Los Angeles, CA–The Central Washington Wildcats beat a physical Air Force squad 81-28 today to advance to the Varsity Cup National Championships semifinals.

Both teams started the match with gusto as each side worked to probe and penetrate the other’s defensive line.

After some continual pressure an Air Force penalty gave CWU’s Alex Reher a shot at a penalty goal in the 8th minute. Reher’s kick was true and the Wildcats took a small lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

CWU would continue to battle as the Air Force Academy moved into the CWU territory over the course of the ensuing minutes. But four tries by CWU in succession would take the Wildcats’ lead out to 29-0 before AFA would finally break through for their first score in the 29th minute.

CWU would dot down twice more to Air Force’s one try to make the half time scoreline 43-14.

The second was much of the same as CWU’s open-field running set up 5 more tries while Air Force battled well to the finish by scoring a pair of tries.

The final score of 81-28 was in the Wildcats’s favor and head coach Tony Pacheco felt his team hold their own against a strong Air Force side.

“Proud of the way the team played and responded to a physical opponent in Air Force,” Pacheco said, “We will need to be more accurate going into BYU and certainly look forward to another great Varsity Cup competition.”

CWU now travels to Provo, UT to take on the Cougars of BYU on April 27th. Kick-off for the BYU vs. CWU tilt is set for 1pm MT and can viewed online on the Varsity Cup’s YouTube channel.

CWU Director of Rugby Bob Ford was grateful for the Varsity Cup organizers and UCLA for the great Western Super-Regional experience and set up.

“UCLA did a fantastic job of hosting the West Super Regional of the Varsity Cup,” Ford said, ‘The entire set up and execution of the event was focused on the player and fan experience.”

For more information on the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship go to VarsityCup.US.

CWU vs. AFA Scoring Timeline:

Penalty – Alex Reher 3 @ 8:00
Try – Zach Siemens @ 14:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Tyler Coffman @ 19:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Sean Wanigasekera @ 23:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Jacob Bates @ 26:00, Conversion Missed
Try – Air Force @29:00, Conversion Made
Try – Jacob Bates @ 31:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Tanner Barnes @ 35:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Air Force @ 40:00, Conversion Made
Half 43-14
Try – Aladdin Schirmer @ 44:00, Conversion Missed
Try – Air Force @ 55:00, Conversion Made
Try – Josh Bower @57:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Air Force @ 60:00, Conversion Made
Try – Josh Bower @64:00, Conversion Missed
Try – Shelby Williams @ 71:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Tanner Barnes @ 73:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Final – CWU: 81 AFA 28

EXCITEMENT BUILDING FOR VARSITY CUP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

EXCITEMENT BUILDING FOR VARSITY CUP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Provo, UT—With less than 48 hours until the start of the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship excitement is building around America’s top collegiate postseason championship.

The Varsity Cup features eight of the most recognized and accomplished collegiate rugby programs in the country vying for the right to be named the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Champion.

The eight Varsity Cup teams are the U.S. Air Force Academy, Brigham Young University, the University of California, Dartmouth College, the U.S. Naval Academy, Notre Dame, the University of California, Los Angeles and Central Washington University.

In the 33 years of the collegiate rugby championship play 31 of the collegiate national champions have come from one of the eight Varsity Cup teams. In total, a Varsity Cup program has played for the collegiate title in every year of the championship’s existence except for 1984.

In 2013 the Varsity Cup teams have boasted an overall record of 87-7 in collegiate play and three of the eight Varsity Cup teams finished as their respective conference champion—California (PAC), Dartmouth (Ivy League) and Navy (ACRL). UCLA was no slacker this season finishing as the outright runners-up in the PAC beating all the other PAC teams with the exception of PAC champ California.

Meanwhile, BYU, Air Force, CWU and Notre Dame played as “conference independents” but recorded a cumulative 36-4 record in 2013 against all collegiate division foes.

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

The Varsity Cup programs’ appeal is wide reaching. The two most recent Collegiate National Championships attracted over 22,000 spectators to Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, UT (California—2011 & BYU—2012) with both championships being viewed live, on tape delay and on-demand on the ESPN family of networks.

University administrators and coaches alike are also anxious to get the Varsity Cup action started. Here’s what many of them are saying:

UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATORS

“As a campus community we are excited and proud to send our Cal rugby team to the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Championships. We are proud to compete with the elite college rugby programs on a national stage.”

-Solly Fulp, Deputy Director of Athletics/COO, University of California

“Navy is honored to be part of the inaugural Varsity Cup with so many great collegiate rugby programs.  Throughout our athletics program, we pride ourselves on competing at the top level, and the Varsity Cup gives our Men’s Rugby program that opportunity.  We’re excited to host the Eastern Super-Regional and support our team as they strive for the National Championship.”

-Robert Dunn, Associate Athletic Director, Naval Academy

“We are celebrating our 41st year of rugby at Central Washington University and we are excited about the direction of our program. The Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship provides an excellent opportunity for us to compete with the nations top rugby institutions.”

– James L. Gaudino, President, Central Washington University

COACHES

“We are delighted to be participating in the Varsity Cup, the Premier National Collegiate Rugby Championship in the country, and are very pleased to be hosting such esteemed rugby programs on our campus. The performance of the participating teams this past season is a testament to the strength of the Varsity Cup field, one deserving of National Championship accolades.”

-Scott Stewart, Head Coach, UCLA Men’s Rugby

“It is a huge honor and privilege for The University of Notre Dame to be playing Cal in the VC this weekend. It is a brilliant opportunity for our Rugby Program to play against one of the best and most storied programs and our players are thrilled to be playing in American Rugby’s National Collegiate Rugby Championship”

-Sean O’Leary, Head Coach, University of Notre Dame Men’s Rugby

“Dartmouth is very excited about our participation in the Varsity Cup. Competing in this premier collegiate tournament is the pinnacle of our 15’s season. We know we need to be at the top of our game to contend against Navy on Saturday.”

-Gavin Hickie, Head Coach, Dartmouth College Men’s Rugby

“I think the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Championship is something that every fan in college rugby has their eye on.  If you look at the teams across the board with BYU, Cal, Air Force have all won titles and you’d be hard pressed to find programs  that have consistently competed at a level as high as Navy, Dartmouth, UCLA, Notre Dame and Central Washington.  Man, our guys are excited to be part of it.  Our whole team will be anxiously watching the event itching for a shot next year.  At the University of Texas just participating doesn’t cut it.  Our Administration, alumni and supports expect us to win at the absolute highest level and this is the prize everyone has set their sites on.  It’s a tremendous thing.”

-Chris Hopps, Head Coach, University of Texas Men’s Rugby

With the level of interest growing daily from the fans, players, coaches coupled with the foundation of the Varsity Cup based on solid coaches, high performance development environments, development of top-level rugby talent and an historic record of entertaining and championship rugby there’s a reason the Varsity Cup is known as “American Rugby’s National Collegiate Championship.”

For more information on the Varsity Cup follow it on Facebook and Twitter or go to VarsityCup.US for tickets, broadcast and other information.

Varsity Cup National Championship East & West Super-Regionals Preview

Varsity Cup National Championship East & West Super-Regionals Preview

Provo, UT—The much-anticipated opening rounds of the Varsity Cup are set to kick off this weekend as all eight teams will play for the right to claim the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship.

With 31 of the last 33 National Collegiate Championships having been won by one of the Varsity Cup teams, it’s clear that the stakes are high for all eight universities.

“It doesn’t get any better than single-elimination national championship rugby,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark.

In Annapolis the Naval Academy will host half of the opening weekend Varsity Cup action at the Eastern Super-Regional with two matches being played at the Navy-Marines Corp Memorial Stadium April 20th.

The opening match sees perennial national champions the University of California taking on the University of Notre Dame at 1.30pm ET.

The Bears and Irish will renew a history that extends deep into their pasts. When Notre Dame came to California Memorial Stadium on April 8, 1967, for a match covered extensively by Sports Illustrated as the national championship, the Bears bested the Fighting Irish, 37-3.

“The University of Notre Dame is thrilled to be playing Cal this weekend to rekindle this great rivalry at the Varsity Cup,” said Irish head coach Sean O’Leary. “It’s a great opportunity to be tested against the best.”

The other Eastern Super-Regional quarterfinal sees the hosts Navy squaring off with Dartmouth at 3.30pm ET.

Both the Big Green and the Midshipmen are coming off undefeated conference championship seasons—the Ivy League and the Atlantic Coast Rugby Conference, respectively.

And Navy’s head coach Mike Flanagan knows the magnitude of his team’s clash with Dartmouth and their hosting the Eastern Super-Regional in Annapolis.

“To bring to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this level of rugby competition is terrific,” Flanagan said, “Cal, Notre Dame and Dartmouth are all outstanding collegiate programs. These matches promise to showcase American Collegiate rugby in a way that few events in the past have.”

All games at the Varsity Cup Eastern Super-Regional can be viewed online with a subscription at NavySports.com.

Tickets for the Eastern Super-Regional are $10 for adults, $5 for youth 18 and under and can be bought at the gate.

VC Bracket Textured

All eight teams will be competing for the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship

The Varsity Cup National Championship action continues on the same day on the West Coast with UCLA hosting the Western Super-Regional.

The opening match sees three-time National Collegiate Champion the Air Force Academy will square off with Central Washington University at 2pm PT.

The Zoomies from the AFA own an 8-1 record and recently bested a strong Texas A&M team in College Station 38-21.

The Wildcats meanwhile come into their match with Air Force owning a 9-1 record and some of America’s top collegiate talent in the form of No. 8 Aladdin Schirmer and center Tanner Barnes who played on the USA U20’s 2012 Junior World Trophy Championship team.

Air Force head coach Joe Maulbauer is looking forward to the challenge of playing in the Varsity Cup and facing off with the Wildcats.

“The Air Force Academy is very excited about playing in the Varsity Cup,” Muehlbauer said, “We are committed to playing at the highest level possible and that’s what the Varsity Cup offers us. Central Washington is a very good team and we know we will have our work cut out for us. We are up for the challenge and look forward to it.”

Closing out the action at the Western Super-Regional will be the UCLA Bruins taking on two-time National Collegiate Champion Brigham Young University at 4pm PT.

The Bruins posted a 9-2 record this season with only two losses to PAC champion California and a previous regular season loss to BYU earlier this year in January.  UCLA captured a number of collegiate rugby scalps by beating the likes of Utah, Arizona and Arizona State on their way to a runner-up finish to Cal in the PAC.

The Cougars meanwhile remain undefeated in collegiate rugby play this season and know a rematch with the Bruins won’t be easy, says BYU head coach David Smyth.

“We’re very much looking forward to heading back to Los Angeles,” Smyth said, “The Bruins are a very different team from when we played them earlier this year. Our goal is no different from any of the other seven teams in the Varsity Cup, but having a chance at winning a National Championship only comes if we get past UCLA and that’s not going to be an easy task this time around.”

Both Western Super-Regional matches are set to be broadcast on the Varsity Cup YouTube Channel.

Tickets for the Western Super-Regional can be purchased online via TicketMaster and at the gate for $15 for general admission and $30 VIP admission.

The winners of each Super-Regional match are set to face each other in the Varsity Cup semifinals on April 27th. The higher seeded team will earn the right to host their respective semifinal on their university’s campus.

Both semifinal venues and broadcast details will be released following the results of all Super-Regional matches.

The Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Champion will be crowned on May 4th at BYU’s South Field Stadium. Kick off for the championship game is set for 1pm PT.

Advance tickets for the Varsity Cup National Championship game can be bought at BYUTickets.com.

For scoring and match results for this weekend’s Western and Eastern Super-Regional games follow the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information on the Varsity Cup including ticket and broadcast details go to VarsityCup.US.

Central Washington Accepts Varsity Cup Invitation

Central Washington Accepts Varsity Cup Invitation

Provo, UT—The Varsity Cup announced today that Central Washington University (CWU) has been selected to participate in the 2013 Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship.

CWU comes into the Varsity Cup after the forced departure of the University of Utah following a recent administrative suspension of the Utah rugby program.

The Wildcats immediately join the Varsity Cup this postseason with an on-going participation commitment through the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

As an NCAA member institution Central Washington University is led by current head coach Tony Pacheco, who concurrently serves as the USA Rugby Collegiate All American 7’s head coach.

CWU boasts an 8-0 regular season record in 2012-13 and a #5 national ranking in the USA Rugby D1-A poll.

The Wildcats also field one of the country’s top 7’s squads with CWU being 2012 Collegiate 7’s Runners-Up and a spate of recent 7’s rugby tournaments victories over the last year, including an appearance in February’s acclaimed USA Sevens Las Vegas Invitational where CWU advanced to the Cup Championship only to fall to a strong University of Victoria 7’s team.

CWU’s Director of Rugby Bob Ford says the invitation to join the Varsity Cup Championship was an opportunity his program couldn’t afford to pass up.

“The competition structure is something that will provide consistency to our program,” Ford said,”And will provide our players with access to a high level of rugby on a regular basis. This is an opportunity we did not see on our immediate horizon and one that required careful consideration in a compressed timeline. We look forward to the competition the Varsity Cup provides and are excited about promoting the growth of rugby.”

The decision to invite the CWU Wildcats into the inaugural Varsity Cup came after timely but careful consideration with the participating Varsity Cup universities’ administrators and coaching staffs.

“We had significant interest from a number of programs,” said BYU’s David Smyth, “In the end, all of the Varsity Cup universities were unanimous that inviting Central Washington was the best course. We’re pleased to have a team of the caliber of the Wildcats join the Varsity Cup Championship.”

CWU will slot into the vacated #4 seed and meet the Air Force Academy in the Western Super-Regional hosted on the campus of UCLA.

Kick-off for the AFA vs. CWU match is set for 2pm PT on Saturday, April 20th. Meanwhile the hosts will take on 2012 National Collegiate Rugby Champion BYU in the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional concluding match at 4pm.

The inclusion of CWU doesn’t affect the Eastern Super-Regional as 2011 National Collegiate Rugby Champion California takes on Notre Dame and Navy meets Dartmouth.

Both Eastern Super-Regional matches are also scheduled for April 20th and are set to be played at 1.30pm ET and 3.30pm ET respectively inside the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

For more news and information on the Varsity Cup and the participating teams, please go to VarsityCup.US or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

ABOUT THE VARSITY CUP: The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason 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 eight of the most recognized and accomplished collegiate rugby programs in the country vying for the right to be named the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Champion.

The eight Varsity Cup teams are the U.S. Air Force Academy, Brigham Young University, the University of California, Dartmouth College, the U.S. Naval Academy, Notre Dame, the University of California, Los Angeles and Central Washington University. In the 33 years of the collegiate rugby championship play 31 of the collegiate national champions have come from one of the eight Varsity Cup teams. In total, a Varsity Cup program has played for the collegiate title in every year of the championship’s existence except for 1984.

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