Cal Shocks BYU | 2016 Final Recap

Cal Shocks BYU | 2016 Final Recap

by Brett Anker

Cal defeated BYU 40-29 in the final of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup to claim its first ever Varsity Cup title. After falling in the last three Varsity Cup finals to the Cougars, Cal overcame some tremendous obstacles to capture the title. The Golden Bears shattered BYU’s two year unbeaten streak and even more impressive, went in to Provo Utah and one on South Field, a place where BYU had never lost.

BYU got a perfect bounce on a short kickoff and nearly broke through in the opening seconds. The Cougars immediately got in the 22-meter line but Cal withstood the pressure and kicked out of trouble after a knock.

After several penalties sending possession back and forth, Cal nearly struck first. The Golden Bears stole the ball at the breakdown inside the BYU 22 and send it wide through the hands. Patrick Barrientes busted through a half gap but was brought down three feet from the line. Barrientes got to his feet but was held in the tackle and a penalty was awarded to the Cougars.

The home side faced some adversity early, losing captain Ara Elkington to a bloody eye and winger Kevin Schoefield to a head injury. Adding to the injury issues, BYU failed to reach touch on several penalties, giving Cal ample attacking opportunities. One of those penalties finally cost BYU. Scott Walsh picked up an unpressured knock and was taken down inside the 22. Cal sprung the ball left and outnumbered the BYU defense for a Lucas Dunne score. The conversion was missed and Cal led 5-0.

BYU continued to struggle with continuity but ultimately broke through 20 minutes in. Alex Vorster fended off a Cal tackler. He drew the fullback and offloaded to an oncoming Zach Weber for a try under the posts. Calvin Whiting nailed the kick to give BYU a 7-5 lead.

The Cougars started firing and got another try a few minutes later. Scrumhalf Luke Mocke backed himself with a dummy to gain a few meters. With a pair of tacklers on him, the South African popped a pass to number 8 Joe Pikula. The monster backrower busted through the line and off loaded to the recently returned Elkington for a 14-5 lead.

Cal stymied the BYU momentum at the 30-minute mark. Anthony Salabar broke a few tackles to get deep inside the BYU 22. Scrumhalf Nickolas Boyer picked and nearly found the edge, but with hands on him, popped the ball back inside to cutting winger Zachary Tavenner. The winger went in untouched to make the game 14-12.

The next scoring opportunity came when Vorster ran over a Cal player off a lineout. The ball went through hands but Cal’s Connor Sweet intercepted a pass near the goal line to save a try. The Cougars stayed inside Cal territory but a number of knock-ons prevented the Cougars from extending the lead. The game went into the break 14-12 in favor of BYU.

After several kicks exchanging possession to start the second half, BYU looked to be in trouble inside its own 22. The ball was bouncing around but Whiting scooped it up, overpowered a defender and busted through the Cal line to midfield. A high tackle penalty gave Whiting a chance at goal but the kicked missed left.

BYU struck first in the second minutes later, however. Off a scrum the Cougars broke through out wide and offloaded inside to Ryan Blaser. Blaser pushed his way over in the corner to extend the lead to 21-12.

The Cougars extended their lead minutes later. After a knock-on at the goal line prevented a try, Whiting added a penalty to increase the lead to 24-12.

Cal would not go away, however. Dunne found space out wide and after being tackled, BYU was pinged for a penalty. Boyer quick tapped and found Andrew Bush who broke a tackle and scored a try. Boyer missed the conversion and it was 24-19.

Turnovers hurt the Golden Bears minutes later. Cal coughed the ball up and the Cougars quickly spun the ball wide right. Fullback Tua Laei found spacer out wide and sprinted his way to the pylon for a 29-19 lead.

Cal misfired on several opportunities to score in the following minutes. Flyhalf Russell Webb missed a clear break with a poor pass and Boyer missed a penalty that would have cut it to a one score game.

The Bears finally broke though the 70th minute. Jake Goena nearly scored off a line out but was taken down just short. Cal recycled and spun the ball left to Anthony Salabar. BYU ran out of defenders and the big center walked in for the score. Russell Webb tallied the kick to cut the game to 29-26 with 10 minutes to play.

The boys from Berkeley took the lead nearly a minute later. Getting deep in BYU territory off a penalty, the Bears drover a maul near the goal line. Boyer picked off the back of the ruck and scored untouched to take a 33-29 lead.

The Golden Bears sealed the game with less than five minutes to play. Off a lineout once again, the visitors powered over the line via a maul with Boyer getting his second of the day.

Cal dominated BYU in the line out and that was really the difference in the second half. Overall, Cal capitalized on a number of BYU errors and dominated the final quarter of the game to capture its first Penn Mutual Varsity Cup title.

BYU vs. Cal | 2016 Championship Preview

BYU vs. Cal | 2016 Championship Preview

by Brett Anker

Cal and BYU will square off in the final of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup on Saturday at South Field on the Campus of BYU. The game will be aired live on the NBCSN at 4PM EST.

BYU and Cal have been the gold standard of collegiate rugby for several decades. The Cougars and the Bears had met in the post season twelve times before this encounter with 10 coming in national title bouts. The Bears have gotten the better of BYU historically, but the recent years have gone the way of the Cougar.

The Cougars and the Golden Bears have met in the finals of first three Varsity Cups with BYU slaying the Bears in all three contests. In the inaugural Varsity Cup, Cal battled back from a two score deficit only to lose to a drop goal from then freshman Johnny Linehan. Two years ago the Cougars dropped the Bears 43-33 and last year they edged the California school 30-27 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The teams have faced a number of common opponents including, Army, Central Washington, Utah, Air Force, St. Mary’s and Arizona State. Both teams went undefeated against the common opponents but BYU had far more convincing victories against a number of them.

Cal understands the challenge ahead of them. It will be more difficult this year as the game returns to the BYU campus. The Cougars have never lost a game at South Field. With a talented and mature team, BYU will be the stiffest challenge of the year for Cal.

I imagine we will see a similar lineup to the one they used in the semi,” Clark said of BYU. “It is a very experienced team, well beyond normal university age. They will field a half-dozen or more players who graduated high school in 2009, a few more 2010 grads and at least one player who is a 2008 high school graduate. It is nothing new to us or any of the other teams in the competition. It is what comes with playing BYU.”

Cal will be without fullback Harry Adolphus, who was lost to injury in the quarterfinal matchup with Army. However, the Golden Bears have a lot of depth and with a strong pack, led by Scott Walsh and George Vrame up front, have the size and athleticism to match up with a strong BYU pack.

After winning the last three Varsity Cups, BYU is gunning for another victory. The Cougars have been firing on all cylinders and may have the best team they have had in years.

“This team this year is probably the most cohesive team we have had for as long as I have been here,” said assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti. “The guys are just enjoying their rugby, enjoying each other’s company and having a lot of fun.”

The Cougars will look to continue their unbeaten streak that dates back to the spring of 2014. Playing at front of a home crowd adds a little excitement and motivation for the Utah school.

“It is a privilege to have it on campus. The crowd we have had for the last six years playing there has been our 16th man. They come out and support us and we are blessed to have it back home. We see it as a nice to have but never a guarantee,” Tarawhiti said of the home field advantage.

Despite playing at home, BYU is well aware of the rich tradition and history of Cal. The Cougars have spent the last two weeks gearing up for their toughest game of the year.

“We always have a genuine mutual respect for Cal. Those guys have been the benchmark of rugby for a number of years. We always look forward to playing them. We tend to play our best rugby when we play against them and are looking forward to that challenge again,” Tarawhiti added.

BYU Powers Past Arkansas State

BYU Powers Past Arkansas State

by Brett Anker
Photo Credit: Davey Wilson

BYU dominated Arkansas State 68-20 in route to its fourth consecutive Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final. The Cougars pulled away in the late stage of the first half and the early part of the second to win comfortably.

The Whippy brothers accounted for the first 17 points for the Cougars. In the sixth minute, Joshua Whippy intercepted a pass from his outside center position to walk in for the score. His brother and flyhalf, Jared slotted the conversion to take a 7-0 lead. 10 minutes later, the duo combined to double up the lead for BYU. Off a scrum, the Josh ran an inside line off his brother and weaved through the confused Red Wolves defense for 14-0 lead.

“They have been playing rugby all their lives. When it goes well it goes well,” BYU Assistant Coach Wayne Tarawhiti said of the Fijan born twins. “Both those guys appreciate each other’s skills and we allow for them to sort of go for it as well.”

ASU struck back off some excellent phase play. Tabo Maree ended up breaking through the line and dove over to cut the deficit to nine. Jared Whippy got BYU back in score sheet with a penalty but Zin Zan Elan-Puttick added one of his own to keep Arkansas State within range at 17-8.

By the 35th minute however, BYU began to take over the game. Zane Mendenhall and Josh Anderson scored tries before the break, giving the Cougars a 27-8 halftime lead. The home side continued the onslaught in the first 15 minutes of the second half. The Cougars scored in the 42nd minute and Anderson added his second of the match minutes later to extend the lead to 37-8. Matt Jensen then added two more in the span of four minutes to give BYU a 51-8 lead. In total, the explosive BYU attack netted six tries in less than a 20-minute span to blow the game wide open.

“We tried hard to correct some stuff that happened last year. Last year there was a time where we would get out rather quickly but then we sort of would fall asleep,” said Tarawhiti. “This year we concentrated a lot on trying to put teams away.”

The Red Wolves responded with a try from Elan-Puttick but the Cougars would add three more scores before ASU finished off the game with a final score. Anderson tallied his third while Tua Laei and Luke Mocke both made their way into the score sheet.

“Yesterday was a good game for us. We played some pretty expansive rugby. We have been training to get where we peak at the right time. Yesterday was an example of that. We allowed the boys to play a pretty expansive game of rugby and allowed them to play what’s in front of them. Yesterday was a combination of all of that and we did really well,” Tarawhiti said.

BYU will host Cal in the Varsity Cup final on May 7th. The game will be broadcast live on the NBCSN at 2PM MST/4PM EST.

2016 Semi-Final Match Schedule | April 23rd

2016 Semi-Final Match Schedule | April 23rd


The Varsity Cup Semi-Finals see Arkansas State heading to reigning champs BYU, and Cal will play host to CWU. Who will advance to earn a spot in this year’s national championship?

See the below for more information on the where and when the matches are being held and how you can watch remotely:

BYU vs. Arkansas State

– Location: South Field, BYU Campus, Provo, UT 84606
– Time: 1:00 PM MDT
– Webcast: Live on YouTube (

Cal vs. CWU

– Location: Witter Rugby Field, 210 Stadium Rim Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
– Time: 1:00 PM PDT

BYU vs. Arkansas State | 2016 Semi-Final Preview

BYU vs. Arkansas State | 2016 Semi-Final Preview

by Brett Anker

BYU will meet Arkansas State in the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup this weekend in Provo, Utah. The Cougars last met the Red Wolves in the 2012 Division One National Championship. The Cougars won a thrilling 49-42 match in their first of four consecutive national championships.

“The last time we played Arkansas State was in the national championship in 2012. They were a great opponent then and I can’t see them not being just as good. They have some good fundamentals and are a well coached team,” assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti said of Arkansas State.

BYU improved to 21-0 after handily defeating Dartmouth last weekend. The Cougars have scored in droves all season. The forward pack is extremely experienced and the back line incredibly explosive.

“Our team has continued to work hard carrying the momentum from the regular season to the playoffs this year,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s performance this season. “We need to continue to stay disciplined all 80-minutes of the game and keep up our intensity. Arkansas State will play their best and will bring it on Saturday.”

Arkansas State has used this week to mend sore bodies and prepare for another week of tough travel. The Red Wolves logged a lot of miles traveling to Navy last weekend and will have another long trip to Utah for Saturday’s match.

“It is going to take a lot of preparation. Starting right now. Getting all the knocks and bruises is first things first and mentally preparing as we travel home,” Arkansas State coach Shaun Potgeiter said after the win over Navy.

The Red Wolves realize they may need to open it up this weekend. With a potent BYU attack playing in front of a home crowd, Potgeiter expects a high scoring match.

“I think it is going to be a try fest. We are going to expect to be scored on. It is BYU. They can attack as is. On our end we are pretty lethal on attack as well. I think it is going to be an exciting game,” Potgeiter said.

The match kicks off 1PM MST.

BYU Too Much For Dartmouth

BYU Too Much For Dartmouth

by Brett Anker

BYU dominated Dartmouth 75-15 in to cruise into the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinals. A strong start and a patient attack propelled the Cougars to a convincing victory.

The Cougars scored five tries in the first 20 minutes, never giving the Big Green an opportunity to get into the game. Kevin Schofield scored twice in the first five minutes to give the Cougars a 10-0 lead. Tua Laei, Josh Anderson and Jared Whippy added tries before the 20-minute mark to take a 27-0 lead.

“We knew that we had to come out really quick. We changed our pregame up a little bit just so the boys can get their legs underneath them from the plane ride but the goal was to get out of the gates as quickly as possible. That’s what they were able to do,” said BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti.

Dartmouth settled down after poor start to hold BYU scoreless for the next 15 minutes. Laei added his second score before halftime but the Big Green managed to put one in itself before the break. Will Konstant intercepted a pass and took it the distance for a 34-7 halftime score.

The Big Green managed to get the first score of the second half via a penalty but wouldn’t manage any more points until a consolation try at the death. In between, BYU added six more scores with Laei nabbing the hat trick and both Whippy and Anderson getting a brace.

“Dartmouth were very quick over the ball. They were smaller than us physically. The score was a little inflated because competition was tough. They were quick to get over the ball and they made us work hard,” added Tarawhiti. “We were patient enough to know that if we could turn it up the middle first we could try and find ourselves space out wide.”

Overall, the BYU coaching staff was satisfied with the performance and is excited to host Arkansas State next weekend.

“Happy with the boys performance but we have been saying this all year, the only thing we can do is try and get up and play the next week, and we are fortunate enough to play a game next week,” Tarawhiti concluded.

2016 Quarterfinal Match Schedule | April 16th

2016 Quarterfinal Match Schedule | April 16th


The Varsity Cup Quarterfinals are nearly upon us! There are some critical matchups tomorrow Sat., April 16th as Arkansas State, Army, BYU, Cal, CWU, Dartmouth, Navy, & Utah will do battle to see who earns at spot in the Semi-Finals.

See the below for more information on the where and when the matches are being held and how you can watch remotely:

Army vs. Cal

– Location: Anderson Rugby Complex, River Rd., West Point, NY 10996
– Time: 3:00 PM EDT
– Webcast: Army “Knight Vision” (

Dartmouth vs. BYU

– Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
– Time: 1:00 PM EDT
– Webcast: Live on YouTube (

Navy vs. Arkansas State

Location: Naval Academy Brigade Sports Complex, 64 Greenbury Point Rd., Annapolis, MD 21402
Time: 11:00 AM EDT

Utah vs. CWU

Location: Salt Lake Regional Sports Complex, 2280 N. Rose Park Lane, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Time: 12:00 PM MDT
Webcast: KUTE Radio (

Dartmouth vs. BYU | 2016 Quarterfinal Preview

Dartmouth vs. BYU | 2016 Quarterfinal Preview

by Brett Anker

In the second round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, BYU will travel to Hanover, NH to take on Dartmouth. BYU put up a century mark last week in Arizona and will be looking to continue the momentum in the northeast.

BYU and Dartmouth last met in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Varsity Cup. Dartmouth frustrated BYU for most of the first half in that contest and only trailed 15-3 at the break. The Cougars surged in the second half, however, winning 70-15.

The Big Green will take on BYU in the second round once again. Dartmouth will look to surprise once again after shocking Penn State last week. The Ivy League played a strong game and executed its game plan to near perfection in last weeks win over Penn State. Coach Gavin Hickie indicated that his team may not be able to fly under the radar again and will expect BYU to provide a stern test.

“We know where we are nationally despite what subjective rankings around the country say. We are pretty comfortable with where we are nationally.” Hickie said of Dartmouth. “We are not quite at BYU’s level yet but any opportunity we get to play them we will gladly accept that challenge.”

The Big Green needs to play a near perfect game to challenge the three time defending Varsity Cup champions. The Ivy school has is giving up a lot of size but that is no different than most other games. For Dartmouth, it is about finding unique ways to exploit space.

“We have got to be clinical in our execution… We have got to be clinical with any offloads and in the contact area. We know they are going to be huge, physical, so we have to be bottled up in that area and find the space wherever that my be. We have got to get a game plan and execute it properly, “Hickie added.

The Cougars are coming off their 20th victory of the season and are playing incredibly well this season. After traveling to Arizona last weekend, BYU will make the trek to the east coast to play. Despite a lot of travel, the BYU coaching staff believes the boys will ready to play from the get go.

“It will be a challenge for us. We have got to travel quite a bit to get there but our boys will be ready to go either way,” BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti said of the Cougars.

Despite having been unbeaten since 2014, BYU takes nothing for granted. Knowing the tough time the Big Green gave the Cougars in the first half a couple of years ago, the Utah school is not taking Dartmouth lightly.

“Dartmouth is and has been a well coached school for a number of years Gavin Hickie is a really good coach. He will have his boys ready to play us up there this weekend. We are just going to go up there and hopefully play well enough to play again the following weekend,” Tarawhiti said.

The game kicks off at 1:30 EST.

BYU Tramples ASU in Varsity Cup Opener

BYU Tramples ASU in Varsity Cup Opener

by Brett Anker
Photo Credit: AWride Photography

BYU started its quest for a fourth consecutive Penn Mutual Varsity Cup championship with a blistering 113-8 victory over Arizona State. The shear size, strength and speed overwhelmed the Sun Devils on Saturday night.

The Cougars jumped out of the gate quickly and tallied 61 points by halftime. Kevin Schofield scored three first half tries and added a fourth in the second half. Hooker Alex Vorster added two more tries in the first half in a game that quickly became a rout.

“Our boys played really well. We were firing on all cylinders,” said BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti. ”We were able to piece some stuff together in both our forwards and backs and were exceptional on the night.”

Jackson Kaka earned himself a pair of scores in the second half, including the try that put the Cougars over the century mark. In total 11 different Cougars found the try zone.

Despite giving up over one hundred points, the Sun Devils continued to play until the final whistle. Gary Lane’s side has showed tremendous effort all season and the young squad will be stronger come next year’s competition.

“It was a tough game for Arizona State,” added Tarawhiti. “But I will say this, the boys played right until the very end regardless of the score.”

BYU will travel to Hanover to take on Dartmouth in the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.

2016 Opening Round Match Schedule | April 9th

2016 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” (

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


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

Dartmouth vs. Penn State

Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Webcast: Live on YouTube (

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 (