Los Angeles, CA–As the 2013 rugby calendar draws near to a close the UCLA Bruins and head coach Scott Stewart looked back on their involvement in the Varsity Cup as crucial to their goal of returning the Bruins to the upper-echelon of collegiate rugby in America.
It wasn’t long ago when UCLA was the marquee collegiate rugby program in the USA. The legendary UCLA head coach Dennis Storer who compiled a 362-46-2 record from 1966-1982 before becoming the USA Eagles first head coach helped build the Bruins’ rugby program into the envy of American rugby.
UCLA rugby head coach Scott Stewart, himself an a former professional and international level rugby player, says honoring the tradition of UCLA rugby and what Storer was able to accomplish, is motivation for him and his players.
“I think past success leads to future success,” Stewart said, “And those teams and Dennis’s programs are very important to the foundation of what we are doing today. Not just through alumni support but a legacy that motivates us to do our very best.”
Despite their first round loss to eventual Varsity Cup champion Brigham Young University the UCLA Bruins are pleased to see the success with which the Varsity Cup has captured the minds of American collegiate rugby and most importantly on the UCLA campus.
The Varsity Cup National Championship featured marquee collegiate rugby programs including UCLA, Cal, Central Washington, Air Force, Notre Dame, Navy, Dartmouth and BYU.
For the Bruins, the choice to compete in the Varsity Cup was an easy one.
“We truly enjoyed the opportunity to participate and host such elite programs of the caliber of Air Force, BYU and Central Washington on our campus in the Varsity Cup Super-Regional quarterfinals,” said Stewart, “Our administration feels the same way and looks forward to another opportunity to do the same in order to grow the Varsity Cup National Championship in the future.”
UCLA Captain Grant Penney echoed, “We believe in the Varsity Cup as the premier postseason championship this country has to offer and are committed to doing our part, through this competition, to grow collegiate rugby on our campus and others.”
On April 20th UCLA enjoyed a record crowd made up of fans of all four teams packing the Bruins’ North Athletic Field stands as they hosted the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional which saw BYU, Air Force, Central Washington along with UCLA squaring off on the beautiful campus in Westwood, CA.
UCLA is now looking forward to next year’s Varsity Cup, fully believing that it is the best place to prove their ability as a team on a long term basis.
“The Varsity Cup will continue to grow and help the programs involved grow,” said team president Matt Frederickson. “UCLA has been extremely proud to play a part in cementing the Varsity Cup as the premier post-season competition in American Rugby.”
With the Bruins now fully entrenched in preparing for the Collegiate Rugby Championships to take place June 1-2 in Philadelphia Stewart says marquee events like the CRC 7’s, the Varsity Cup and the newly formed PAC Rugby Conference will be the key to the continued development and growth of his program and collegiate rugby at large.
“Playing in the CRC, the PAC Rugby Conference and the Varsity Cup are all steps in the process of returning UCLA Rugby back to the level that Dennis Storer once enjoyed,” Stewart said, “These types of competitions provide us with outstanding opportunities to enhance our relationships with our administrators, fan base, potential recruits and in the general community by way of positive collegiate sports competitions.”
The Bruins set out for Philadelphia and the CRC in two weeks knowing that the futures of UCLA rugby program and the Varsity Cup are bright.
For more information on the Collegiate Rugby Championship please visit www.USASevensCRC.com.