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2013 Varsity Cup National Championship: Players’ Perspectives

2013 Varsity Cup National Championship: Players’ Perspectives

Provo, UT—After a one year respite one of collegiate sport’s greatest rivalries will be renewed on the campus of Brigham Young University where perennial national champion the University of California will look to upend the defending national champion BYU Cougars at their home venue of South Field Stadium in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship this Saturday, May 4th at 1pm MT.

In the last eight years the Golden Bears and Cougars have met for the national championship seven times—a streak of collegiate sport dominance unrivaled by other varsity sports.

With the consensus national championship match looming large players from both teams shared their thoughts on what fans of both schools know will be an epic showdown on South Field.

CALIFORNIA

Seamus Kelly, Sr. Outside Center and Team Captain

“I remember playing BYU in their backyard in 2011 and it was a major challenge. I can only imagine playing on their home field in Provo. It’s something that we’re going to have to address. Home field advantage is just that, an advantage.”

“It’s an indescribable feeling [to play for Varsity Cup National Championship]. If you’re going to put this much time into sport, you want to compete at the highest level, and there’s no higher level than a national championship. The highest stakes, the most intensity, and the reward from the challenge is unlike anything else.”

“It’s been an extremely exciting season. Because of the PAC Rugby Conference, the ‘Cup’ with UBC and now the Varsity Cup, we as a team and as a sport have gotten some high-level exposure. The skill and commitment that it’s taken to compete at this level, guys have stepped up to the challenge.”

“It’s [Cal vs. BYU] the marquee matchup in collegiate rugby. With Cal playing BYU in the national championship, it seems like all is right in the world. When we talk about what it means to put on the Cal jersey, the guys who’ve come before us and the success they’ve had, it just feels right having to go through BYU to be a part of that legacy.”

Danny Barrett, Sr. Forward

“It will be a home-field advantage and that’s part of the challenge. When it comes to testing your potential, it’s going to be an environment that does that.”

“It’s pretty cool to have paved the road for PAC Rugby. To have a team like this, a young team, to win the PAC, to win the ‘Cup’ with UBC, to go to the national championship, it’s a real tribute to where we’ve been and where we want to take Cal rugby in the future.”

“It’s something you’re always going to remember and something you’ll always share with your teammates. In 20, 30, 40, 50 years, you’re going to go back and remember the game like it was yesterday, the tackles, the scores and the guys who were out there with you. It’s a precious memory that you’ll never forget. For us, as coach says, it’s constant performance improvement, and it’s the same for BYU. Neither team thinks they’re going win just by putting on the jersey. It’s something you work for. They’re working just as hard as we are. It’s going to be a great one.”

“It’s going to be all out for every second. Growing up with two older brothers who also played for Cal successfully against BYU in national championships, it’s something I relish being a part of.”

Jake Anderson, Jr. Fullback

“It’ll definitely be an intense environment. We expect a lot of noise and it will be a great challenge.”

“It’s a great honor to be part of a squad that gets to play in the Varsity Cup National Championship. So many players that have done it before, that’s the reason that it’s such a big deal, to honor that jersey and represent our University. Seeing how hard guys worked to get it done, we want to look back and evaluate ourselves the same way.”

“There have been a lot of different goals this season: the PAC Rugby Conference, the return to Witter Rugby Field, the ‘World Cup’ series and now the Varsity Cup. BYU is a big measuring telltale and we accept the challenge.”

“I’ve never played against BYU but I’m one of the more experienced players on the squad, so I’ll have to bring the experience that I have. It’s going to have to be our best game to get it done.”

BRIGHAM YOUNG

Ryan Roundy, Sr. No. 8 and Team Captain

“Ever since I came to BYU I’ve always been thrilled to play in the Cal vs. BYU game. Now to get them on our home field and to be playing for a national championship makes all the time and effort worth it.”

“Our program has grown a lot over the time that I’ve been here, but we are always going to be measured by how we did when we played Cal.”

“We’ve had a great season so far but a big part of the legacy we’ll leave will be measured on this weekend’s performance.”

“We [Cal & BYU] both want to come out national champions, but there can only be one team after all is said and done that wins the Varsity Cup. It’s going to be an intense game from start to finish and I expect nothing but a battle by both teams. We’re very much looking forward to the challenge.”

Ray Forrester, Sr. Prop

“We love playing on South Field. Our fans are some of the best rugby fans in the country. It will be a privilege to step on South Field one last time in the Varsity Cup National Championship.”

“I have a lot of great memories here and I know Saturday’s match against Cal here on South Field will produce another great memory no matter the outcome.”

“[Cal is] a great program with a long tradition and we know they’re not going to take coming into Provo lightly. They’re going to accept the challenge we’ll lay out to them.”

“It’s going to be a battle. One for the ages. One that will have a big impact on not only both universities’ rugby tradition’s, but also the future of collegiate rugby. It doesn’t get any more exciting.”

Seki Kofe, Jr. Center

“I’ve played with a lot of the Cal guys on All American teams and they’re good players and good guys too. We have a lot of respect for them obviously since we’ve played almost every year since I’ve been here.”

“We have an opportunity to do something unique by playing for the Varsity Cup National Championship on our home field. This will be the first time that’s been done before.”

“And to be able to play against a team with Cal’s tradition and of their caliber makes it even more exciting to be a part of. This will be a game that I’m sure I will look back for the rest of my life. I’m really looking forward to it.”

TICKET & BROADCAST INFORMATION

Tickets to the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship can be bought in advance by visiting www.BYUTickets.com. Fans are advised to purchase them today due to limited seating.

The Varsity Cup National Championship match between BYU and Cal will  be broadcast live on the Varsity Cup’s YouTube Channel.

Kick-off is set for Saturday, May 4th at 1pm MT.

For more information on the Varsity Cup go to www.VarsityCup.US or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

BYU & Cal Renew One of Collegiate Sport’s Greatest Rivalries Saturday at 1pm on South Field

BYU & Cal Renew One of Collegiate Sport’s Greatest Rivalries Saturday at 1pm on South Field

BERKELEY – Renewing one of collegiate sport’s greatest rivalries California faces Brigham Young in the Varsity Cup National Championship final Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. MT on South Field in Provo, Utah, the home stadium of the Cougars. Advance tickets are available at BYUtickets.com with a live webcast of the championship at YouTube.com/VarsityCupRugby (12 p.m. PT).

In their histories, the Golden Bears (21-0, 5-0 PAC) and Cougars (11-2) have met 10 times, nine of those in the postseason. The only regular-season matchup was in 2001, a 33-22 win for Cal on Witter Rugby Field.

In 1981, Cal beat the Cougars, 6-3, in the Pacific Coast Championships final, with the winning points coming on a 55-meter penalty kick from Mick Luckhurst in the second half, and the Bears repeated the feat in 1983 with a 44-6 win over BYU on campus in Provo. Both of those matches sent the Bears to the national final four, where Cal won national championships on both occasions, edging Harvard 6-3 in overtime at the ’81 final in Dayton, Ohio, for their second title and beating Air Force 13-3 at the ’83 national collegiate championship in Athens, Ga., for their fourth. Cal defeated BYU again the following year, winning 15-10 in the first round of the Pacific Coast Championships before losing to eventual Pacific Coast champion Long Beach State.

After the Cougars fell to Cal Poly in the 2004 national quarterfinals, Cal went on to beat the Mustangs for national championship number 20. Brigham Young lost to Utah in the 2005 national semis and saw Cal claim the national title over the Utes, 44-7, for national title number 21. The Cougars were defeated by the Bears in the 2006 (29-26), ’07 (37-7) and ’08 (59-7) national collegiate championships before BYU got over the hump against the Bears with a three-point win in the 2009 title match, but Cal reclaimed the national collegiate crown with wins over BYU in 2010 (19-7, with the 2006-10 finals all hosted by Stanford) and ’11 (21-14) in Salt Lake City.

This year, the final takes place on BYU’s home pitch since 2009, South Field Stadium, where the Cougars have never lost a match against collegiate competition.

Cal advanced to this year’s consensus national collegiate championship with a 74-6 win over Navy in the semifinal April 27 on Witter Rugby Field, which followed the Bears’ 77-0 victory against Notre Dame at the Eastern Super Regional in Annapolis, Md.

Undefeated against collegiate competition in 2013 with their only losses coming against Elite Cup senior men’s teams New York Athletic Club and Old Puget Bay Sound, BYU rolled into the final with a 53-20 win over Central Washington in the semifinal April 27 in Provo, preceded by the Cougars’ 69-8 victory against Pac Rugby’s UCLA in the Western Super Regional in Los Angeles.

The Cougars are stocked with 2012 All-Americans in prop Ray Forrester, lock T.J. Allred and No. 8 Ryan Roundy, the BYU captain, in the forwards; and centers Seki Kofe and BYU footballer Paul Lasike in the backs. Cal counters with three All-Americans of its own in the forwards – Danny Barrett, Brendan Daly and Alec Gletzer – and another in captain Seamus Kelly at outside center.

The Bears’ level of experience dips on either side of Kelly, starting with sophomore Nicklas Boyer at scrumhalf. It remains unclear whom the Bears will have at flyhalf with injuries having forced three different starting players over the past three matches at that position. Another underclassmen might be found at No. 12 in sophomore Jesse Milne since Jared Braun could also still be on the mend. Sophomore Andrew Battaglia on the wing is relatively experienced by comparison, but still a second-year player. Senior winger Josh Tucker and junior fullback Jake Anderson provide the most experience in the blue and gold’s deep three.

Kelly and Barrett both played all 80 minutes and prop Tanner Mohr saw 10 minutes of action in Cal’s last meeting with BYU at Rio Tinto Stadium for the 2011 national collegiate championship. Nobody else in the Bears’ lineup has ever faced the Cougars. Meanwhile, for BYU, five players – Forrester, Roundy, Kofe, front rower Ishmael Tilialo and halfback Inoke Funaki – will take the field on Saturday with memories of having played in the 2011 title match against the Bears.

The history between these two teams in national championship meetings has left the rugby fan wanting for nothing. The matches have featured stunning offense, punishing defense and dramatic endings. Three of their six championship title meetings have been decided by a converted try or less, and two of those were by only three points.

Cal vs. BYU has come to epitomize the best of American college rugby. On Saturday, the Bears will attempt to win their 27th all-time national championship while BYU will seek its first back-to-back championship.

For more information on the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship go to VarsityCup.US or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

Cal Rugby Bests Navy, Sets Up Title Clash With BYU

Cal Rugby Bests Navy, Sets Up Title Clash With BYU

BERKELEY – Led by four tries by captain Seamus Kelly, California defeated the United States Naval Academy, 74-6, in the Varsity Cup National Championships Semifinals Saturday on Witter Rugby Field in the final home game for the Golden Bears’ graduating seniors. Cal will face BYU Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. MT for the national championship.

A capacity crowd enjoyed the pageantry of a sparkling afternoon in Strawberry Canyon as the Bears got 12 tries from eight players in total, including pairs from flankers Alec Gletzer and Jack O’Beirne. Freshman Harry Adolphus contributed a try in his start at fullback and added five conversions (5-for-5) after taking over those duties from Jake Anderson (2-of-7) in the second half.

Navy, which scored its points on two penalty kicks by second-year flyhalf Jack McAuliffe (2-for-3), ends its season at 9-2 overall (7-0 Atlantic Coast), while the Bears displayed a commitment to defense that matched their offensive output and earned the team a trip to the title game next Saturday with an overall record of 21-0 (5-0 PAC).

Cal passed the test Saturday with a rejiggered young backline that stood tall against the disciplined Midshipmen. Sophomore Nicklas Boyer, who faced off against Navy No. 9 Broderick Neelfeller, spun the ball out to Anderson in his first start at flyhalf, where he went opposite the dangerous McAuliffe. Cal’s fullback responsibilities transferred to Adolphus while sophomore Jesse Milne made his first start at inside center. Sophomore Andrew Battaglia at one wing made it a predominantly frosh-soph set of backs for the Bears.

Along with these young players were some old stalwarts in blue and gold making their last appearances as players on Witter Rugby Field. Playing their final home matches on Saturday were hooker Grant Hyjer, tighthead prop J.P. Hurrell and locks Danny Barrett and Brendan Daly, who were joined by Lyall Davenport came when he replaced Hurrell and Tyler Fach when he came in for Barrett.

Said Barrett, who received a big ovation to culminate his family’s last home match after nine years as Rugby Bears combined with his brothers, Jim and Neill, “It’s kind of sad leaving Witter Rugby Field for the last time as a player, but it’s been such a cool thing to have been a part of this program here with my brothers. We’re going to give it all we’ve got against BYU and it’s going to be a great game.”

“After four years out year, it felt really exciting to put in a good body of work today,” added Daly. “It was excitement not only for the guys graduating, but the whole team supporting us as well.” He called the Cal-BYU matchup next week “something I’ve always wanted to play my entire career.”

Adolphus said he could feel the gravity of Saturday’s finale for Cal’s graduating seniors and wanted to deliver a good performance for them. “All the guys leaving have been fantastic to play with and it was important personally to play well for them. There’s no shortage of respect for Navy either.”

“We have nothing but respect and admiration for the Naval Academy team,” concurred Cal head coach Jack Clark.

The Middies took an early 3-0 lead in the third minute when McAuliffe connected from 15 meters following a Cal penalty, but Kelly’s first try gave the Bears a lead they would never relinquish. O’Beirne scored his first try and, after the Navy’s flyhalf connected on his second kick to make it a 12-6 ballgame, the Bears went on a 65-0 scoring tear to run away with the semifinal.

“We know what they do, but we weren’t prepared for them to do it quite as well as they did,” said Navy head coach Mike Flanagan. “We worked really hard to play or scheme and our style, but Cal did a great job defensively and that’s the tale of the tape right there.”

Outside center Nick Hancock, who also played his final collegiate match on Saturday, said, “We’re obviously very frustrated but the level of respect between these two teams is really high.”

The Bears have now earned the opportunity to play BYU in the final for the seventh time in the past eight years. Cal has won five of those six previous meetings. This year, the final takes place at South Field on the BYU campus, where the Cougars have never lost a match.

Coach Flanagan added that the Varsity Cup National Championships has proved to be the premier showcase for collegiate rugby. “We want to grow the game,” Flanagan said. “This is the competition and these are the young men who are going to do it.”

The Scoring Timeline vs. Navy:

03:00 Navy (Jack McAuliffe) 3
07:00 Seamus Kelly 5, Jake Anderson 2
17:00 Jack O’Beirne 5
20:00 Navy (Jack McAuliffe) 3
24:00 Seamus Kelly 5
31:00 Harry Adolphus 5
33:00 Alec Gletzer 5
38:00 Brendan Daly 5, Jake Anderson 2
Halftime Score: California 34, Navy 6
45:00 Danny Barrett 5
48:00 Seamus Kelly 5, Harry Adolphus 2
53:00 Seamus Kelly 5, Harry Adolphus 2
60:00 Jack O’Beirne 5, Harry Adolphus 2
67:00 Nicklas Boyer 5, Harry Adolphus 2
80:00 Alec Gletzer 5, Harry Adolphus 2
Final Score: California 74, Navy 6

The Team vs. Navy:

15. Adolphus (Coquillard @ 50:00), 14. Tucker, 13. Kelly ©, 12. Milne, 11.
Battaglia, 10. Anderson (Adolphus @ 50:00), 9. Boyer (Dunne @ 79:00), 1.
Mohr, 2. Hyjer (O’Beirne @ 63:00, Walsh @ 77:00), 3. Hurrell (Davenport @
55:00), 4. Barrett (Fach @ 75:00), 5. Daly (Hendrickson @ 70:00), 6.
O’Beirne (Bush @ 63:00), 7. Gletzer, 8. De Nysschen

BYU Into National Title Match With Win Over CWU

BYU Into National Title Match With Win Over CWU

Provo, UT–The BYU Cougars advanced to their 8th straight National Championship game today by beating the Central Washington Wildcats 53-20 on South Field in the semifinals of the Varsity Cup.

BYU had to overcome an early deficit after falling behind by eight points 15-7 in the 22nd minute of the first half.

But 46 unanswered points over the next 50 minutes of the game gave the Cougars the victory.

BYU started the scoring first with junior fullback Will Taylor dotting down in the 6th minute following a junior center Seki Kofe’s midfield linebreak. Freshman flyhalf Jonny Linehan would convert and the Cougars led 7-0.

CWU would respond in kind with a driving maul from 5 meters out that led to lock Sean Wanigasekera’s opening Wildcat try in the 11th minute.

Another series of possession exchanges and a BYU penalty would lead to CWU fullback Alex Reher’s penalty kick 15th minute and a CWU lead of 8-7.

Some errors by both sides followed until CWU flyhalf Max Nawerski split the BYU defense in the midfield that eventually led to Wildcat wing Josh Bower scoring from long distance in the 22nd minute.

A wide angle conversion by CWU’s Reher would push the Wildcats’ lead to 15-7 giving the CWU sideline plenty to cheer about.

The Cougars weren’t deterred however by CWU’s early lead.

“They’re [CWU] a good team,” said BYU captain Ryan Roundy, “We knew they were going to come at us hard and in all credit to them they really had us on the ropes there. But I knew our guys had it in them and it was just about getting back to the basics and playing our game.”

The Cougars did just that and used their game to get back into the game with tries from junior winger Chris Wernli and junior hooker Ishmael Tilialo in the 30th and 37th minutes respectively.

At the break the Cougars would edge back into the lead 19-15; a lead which BYU wouldn’t relinquish.

“BYU is a quality program and we knew that coming into this match,” said CWU head coach Tony Pacheco,”We knew we needed to play without mental mistakes and we did that for 40 minutes. We played the first half extremely well at a level where we needed to be. In the second half, we had some momentum opportunities but we didn’t quite seize them. Hats off to BYU for putting it together and coming through some adversity in the first half.”

The second half started with CWU pressuring close to the BYU goal line, when senior prop Ray Forrester poached the Wildcats’ ball in the 43rd minute.

The ball was passed wide through the BYU backline to Wernli who raced past the CWU defense 50 meters to finish the 90 meter-plus long try.

“That was a big play,” said BYU assistant coach Justen Nadauld, “That could have dramatically changed how the course of the second half went had they been able to score. It really put the momentum in our direction and we were able to build on it.”

BYU freshman scrum half Luke Mocke was next to score for the Cougars in the 51st minute after a deft chip and chase close to the sideline gave the young halfback his first try of the game.

Another try for the Cougars from Kofe in the 53rd minute was followed by a Linehan penalty that would push the BYU lead out to 41-15.

Mocke would squirm his way for another short-range try in the 65th minute, which was followed by a final BYU try from Roundy in the 75th minute.

A late try from CWU in the 78th minute by replacement wing Shelby Williams would round out the final score in favor of the Cougars 53-20.

“I thought CWU played very well in the first half,” said BYU head coach David Smyth, “They really had us on the back foot for long periods of time. They were able to disrupt our set pieces as well. But when we were able to maintain possession and set a better platform from which to release our backs, I thought we were pretty dangerous and did some nice things.”

The Cougars now move on to the Varsity Cup National Championship game next Saturday, May 4th at 1pm which is set to be hosted at BYU South Field Stadium.

BYU will face a familiar foe in the title match as perennial champion California beat the Navy Midshipmen today in Berkeley by the score of 74-6.

Of the eight straight championship bouts the Cougars have played in seven of them have come against the Golden Bears from Cal.

BYU and Cal last met in 2011 in the National Championship at Rio Tinto Stadium with the Bears coming up victors 21-14 in a hotly contested affair.

Saturday’s title tilt between the Bears and the Cougars will be a series of firsts with BYU hosting the National Championship for the first time in the history of the program, while also being the first time the Bears have traveled to Provo in postseason play.

Tickets for Saturday’s championship clash are available for advance purchase at BYUTickets.com.

For more information as the Cougars prepare for the May 4th Varsity Cup National Championship follow the Cougars on Facebook and Twitter.

MATCH SUMMARY: BYU vs. CWU–April 27, 2013
BYU 1st XV

  1. David Collins (David Williams 48′)
  2. Ishmael Tilialo (Scott Gowdy 45′)
  3. Ray Forrester
  4. TJ Allred
  5. Kyle Sumsion
  6. Dan Hubert (Braden Bair 56′)
  7. Kody Thompson (Jeff Ott 73′)
  8. Ryan Roundy (c)
  9. Luke Mocke (Inoke Funaki 75′)
  10. Jonny Linehan (Lelann Latu 70′)
  11. Jordan Lowry
  12. Seki Kofe (Andrew Carver 70′)
  13. Paul Lasike
  14. Chris Wernli
  15. Will Taylor

CWU 1st XV

  1. Korbin Lindell
  2. Jacob Bates
  3. Clint Lemkus
  4. Tyler Coffman
  5. Sean Wanigasekera
  6. Patrick Blair
  7. Aladdin Schirmer
  8. Ryan Snider
  9. Andrew Nelson
  10. Max Narewski
  11. Josh Bower
  12. Zach Siemens
  13. Tanner Barnes
  14. Beau Nichols
  15. Alex Reher

SCORING:
BYU: 53
TRIES: Taylor 6′; Wernli 30′, 44′; Tilialo 37′; Mocke 51′, 65′; Kofe 53′; Roundy 75′
CONVERSIONS: Linehan 5/7; Lasike 0/1
PENALTIES: Linehan 1/2 (56′)

CWU: 8
TRIES: Wanigasekera 11′; Bower 22′
CONVERSIONS: Reher 1/2
PENALTIES: Reher 1/1 (15′)

Cal Hosts Navy in Saturday Semi of Varsity Cup National Championships

Cal Hosts Navy in Saturday Semi of Varsity Cup National Championships

BERKELEY – California (20-0, 5-0 PAC) hosts Navy (9-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast) in the Varsity Cup National Championships semifinal at 2 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 27, when Cal students, youth under 12 and all military personnel with ID will be admitted free to Witter Rugby Field to see the Golden Bears and Midshipmen compete for a slot at the May 4 final. Gates open at 1 p.m.

Both teams are coming off shutout wins at the Varsity Cup Eastern Super Regional on April 20 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Md., where the Bears defeated Notre Dame and the Midshipmen dispatched Dartmouth.

Navy has 10 final-four appearances in the national collegiate championships since 1980, including a runner-up finish to Cal at the 1994 national collegiate championship, a 27-13 victory for the Bears. Since
2000 the Midshipmen have advanced to the national collegiate postseason 10 times.

Once again a formidable team led by longtime coach Mike Flanagan and captained by All-America senior Seamus Siefring, Navy hopes to get over the top with its first-ever win over the Bears this weekend. Cal is 33-1 all-time against all the U.S. military academies combined, its only loss coming against Air Force at the 2003 national collegiate semifinals.

The postseason history between Cal and Navy dates back most recently to May 4, 2007, when the Bears beat the Midshipmen, 63-31, in the national collegiate semifinals. Cal also came out on top in their next and most recent meeting in 15s, at the 2009 San Diego Invitational, where Cal beat Navy, 54-7.

Both teams have completely turned over their rosters since those meetings and have only competed recently against each other in the Olympic 7s code of the game. Cal has also had success there, beating the Midshipmen twice in 2012, at the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s in June and in the September final of the Buckeye 7s.

An intriguing matchup is sure to play out on Saturday at halfback and flyhalf, with Cal’s young tandem of sophomore scrumhalf Nicklas Boyer and freshman Harry Adolphus facing off against Ricky Neel-Feeler and Jack McAuliffe, both of whom made major impacts in the Middies’ Super Regional victory.

“This is in many ways a typical Naval Academy team, a bunch of tough, athletic, competitive guys,” said Bears head coach Jack Clark. “What is somewhat unique in this version of academy rugby is the quality of their halfbacks. I thought they were the best combination at the regional. They are both gifted athletes and exceptional rugby playmakers.”

While the Bears were certainly pleased to advance against the Irish in Annapolis, they also know they’ll need a better effort to defeat a very well put together Navy team. Also on Saturday, BYU hosts Central Washington in the other semifinal starting at 1 p.m. MT/12 p.m. PT. The winners of these matches will meet May 4 in Provo, Utah, for the Varsity Cup National Championship.

BYU Hosts Varsity Cup National Championship Semifinal Saturday

BYU Hosts Varsity Cup National Championship Semifinal Saturday

Provo, UT–The defending National Champion BYU rugby team is set to play host to the Central Washington University Wildcats in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Championship semifinals this Saturday, April 27th at 1pm MT on South Field.

The Cougars and Wildcats are familiar foes with a recent meeting in 2012 where BYU prevailed 76-7. But BYU head coach David Smyth knows this week’s match-up will be a dramatically different affair with CWU.

“CWU is a top-flight team,” Smyth said, “They have some very exciting playmakers and are very hard to defend in the open field. And after seeing some of their film from this year its clear that they’re not the same team from last year.”

CWU advanced to this weekend’s semifinal after beating a strong Air Force Academy team last week at the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional by the score of 81-28.

And with a 10-1 record on the 2013 season the Wildcats are setting to do something that hasn’t been in Provo by a collegiate team since 2006 and that’s beat the BYU Cougars.

“We have a big challenge ahead on Saturday,” said CWU head coach Tony Pacheco,”The Cougars have an impressive combination of size and speed. We have had a great week of training and are excited for the semi final. South Field is one of the great venues for rugby in America with one of the best home crowds.”

BYU earned the right to host this weekend’s semifinal after beating UCLA at the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional 69-8 last Saturday.

The Cougars sit at 10-2 on the 2013 season with a 10-0 record against collegiate competition.

Despite being the #1 overall seed in the Varsity Cup National Championship and being the defending National Collegiate Champions, BYU captain Ryan Roundy knows that the Cougars will have to be on their best if they hope to keep South Field’s collegiate unbeaten streak alive.

“This is a big game no doubt about it,” Roundy said, “We always expect to play well at home in front of our fans. And we’ll have to really be on top of all the little things if we want to make sure we do that and advance to the championship.”

Saturday’s semifinal post-season match-up is the Cougars’ 9th straight semifinal appearance. Despite the near decade of post-season performance Saturday’s semifinal will be the first semifinal hosted on South Field.

“We’re very excited about Saturday,” said BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti, “It doesn’t happen very often that you get to host a semifinal like this, but potentially play in the first ever National Championship game hosted on South Field.”

A win on Saturday would put the Cougars playing in the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship which is set for May 4th at 1pm MT on BYU’s South Field. As Tarawhiti notes the Varsity Cup National Championship game will also be the first such game slated for the Cougars’ home field.

A possible BYU win will see them face the winner of the other Varsity Cup semifinal, which sees perennial national champion California hosting Navy in Berkeley, CA April 27th at 2pm PT.

The BYU vs. CWU semifinal match will be broadcast on the Varsity Cup’s YouTube Channel and through Deseret Media’s KSL.com and DesNews.com streaming platforms giving local, but also national and international fans the chance to see the Cougars and Wildcats’ Varsity Cup clash.

Tickets for Saturday’s match can be bought at the gate for $10 for general admission and $5 for students and youth 18 and under.

For more information on the Cougars as they prepare for the CWU Wildcats follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Navy Upsets Dartmouth to Advance

Navy Upsets Dartmouth to Advance

Annapolis, MD–It was supposed to be the closest match of the Varsity Cup. Dartmouth was supposed to win. Navy didn’t get the memo.

Though the 32-0 score was actually the closest match in the first round of the inaugural Varsity Cup, the outcome surprised everyone except Navy’s home crowd. Normally shutouts speak of a team that either can’t get anything started or can’t get their star player the ball. Neither of those were the case yesterday as Dartmouth’s team was extremely capable and it’s best player, Madison Hughes, had his hands on the ball plenty of times. Navy’s defense simply proved to be too much for Dartmouth, refusing to let them score even a consolation try in injury time. When Navy’s Brandon Willis stripped the ball from a would-be Dartmouth try in the end zone to end the match, it seemed to be an accurate summation of the entire eighty plus minutes for Dartmouth’s offense.

Offensively, Navy seemed to stick to their game plan of using extremely fit attackers to grind down their opponent, then get the ball wide to the back three for a score on a tired defense. Junior Jack Mcauliffe showed a lot of finesse scoring a try himself as well as moving the ball through the back line to get tries from fullback Ron Helms and wing Justin Lamascus. Navy forwards also showed their power inside the 22 with a slow ball try from Darien Green. The excitement of the Varsity Cup clearly energized Navy who also used the foot much more than previous matches.

The win guarantees Navy another 80 minutes of rugby where they will travel to face Cal on Cal’s home field. The two teams spent time together in Annapolis when a few Navy players escorted Cal on a tour of the Academy. Though their next meeting will be on less friendly terms, both teams have ample respect for each other proving the Varsity Cup’s professional setting.

Bears Knock Out Notre Dame, Set Up Semifinal vs. Navy

Bears Knock Out Notre Dame, Set Up Semifinal vs. Navy

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – With a lineup featuring six underclassmen starters who were joined by three more frosh-sophs as replacements, California advanced to the semifinals of the Varsity Cup National Championships on Saturday with a 77-0 win over Notre Dame at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.

The Golden Bears (20-0, 5-0 PAC) got 13 tries from 10 players, including two each from lock Brendan Daly, match-day captain and No. 8 Danny Barrett, and fullback Jake Anderson, who added another 12 points on conversions (6-for-10).

Notre Dame flanker Bobby Manfreda missed a penalty attempt (0-for-1) in the eighth minute that proved to be the best chance for the Irish to score.

“It was an honor to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium,” said match-day captain Danny Barrett, who took over captain’s duties on a day that Seamus Kelly was held in reserve and did not play. “The tour of the academy yesterday was a highlight.”

Cal will face Navy at the semifinals next Saturday, April 27, at 1 p.m. on Witter Rugby Field. The Midshipmen (8-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast) defeated Dartmouth, 32-0, in the second match at the Eastern Super Regional located just off the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Naval Academy did a great job of hosting,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark. “There were key athletic administrators on hand at every turn. This venue will be an important franchise as the Varsity Cup grows.”

The Bears entrusted their fate against the Irish in a Starting XV that included a backline almost entirely comprised of players who had featured primarily as reserves throughout the spring. Sophomore Nicklas Boyer, who continued to build on his resume at scrumhalf, distributed the ball to freshman flyhalf Harry Adolphus (0-for-1 conversions), who kept the ball moving to sophomore Eakalafi Okusi at inside center, freshman Anthony Salaber at outside center and sophomore Jesse Milne at one wing; in the forwards, sophomore Michael Bush got the call to start at one of the flanker positions.

“A lot of us younger guys stepped up,” said Bush. “Anthony Salaber was a key for me.”

After lock Brendan Daly started the scoring in minute four to finish a Cal attack, the Irish remained composed and managed to press into Cal territory and draw a penalty, but Manfreda’s attempted three-point kick from 30 meters was wide left.

Eight minutes later, Bears hooker Grant Hyjer scored Cal’s second try, but the conversion from Anderson was no good into a stiff wind blowing into his face from the north. The fullback missed his next attempt as well following a try by Boyer, but made his next two after a try by Okusi was followed by one of his own, and Cal went into halftime up 29-0.

“Cal came out and went through their phases at a very fast pace,” said Irish head coach Sean O’Leary. “That’s what they do well: they recycle and they win the collision areas. It’s a good learning experience for us. I’ve always been impressed with how Jack Clark and Tom Billups put their program together. They play at a high pace and that’s where we aspire to be.”

“Notre Dame is one of the improving teams in U.S. collegiate rugby and they’re growing the program in the right way,” coach Jack Clark said. “It was a difficult match for them today but their coaching leadership and team ethos are outstanding.”

As has become its trademark over the past five matches, Cal shifted into a higher gear in the second half, adding 48 points including tries by Adolphus, Andre Coquillard (0-for-2 conversions) and Carl Hendrickson.

The Bears left Annapolis honored to have played the Super Regional at the historic venue of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which is ringed with the names of battle sites around the world where Naval and Marine forces have fought and fallen for this country.

“A Navy administrator shared a great story with our team during Friday’s walkthrough,” said Clark. “When Lou Holtz was coaching at William & Mary College in the early ’70s, he brought his team into the stadium, showed them the battle names on the facade and told them, `You think our schedule is tough.'”

“It definitely felt good to come out with a win in a single-elimination tournament, but we know we’ve got a big week of practice ahead to get ready for this next matchup,” added Milne. “This is what as an athlete you live for, to go out there in those do-or-die moments and take it.”

The Scoring Timeline vs. Notre Dame:

04:00 Brendan Daly 5
16:00 Grant Hyjer 5
21:00 Nicklas Boyer 5
24:00 Eakalfi Okusi 5, Jake Anderson 2
27:00 Jake Anderson 5, 2
Halftime Score: California 29, Notre Dame 0
43:00 Danny Barrett 5, Jake Anderson 2
47:00 Jake Anderson 5
52:00 Jesse Milne 5, Jake Anderson 2
59:00 Danny Barrett 5, Jake Anderson 2
62:00 Harry Adolphus 5, Jake Anderson 2
67:00 Brendan Daly 5
71:00 Andre Coquillard 5
78:00 Carl Hendrickson 5
Final Score: California 77, Notre Dame 0

The Team vs. Notre Dame:

15. Anderson (Coquillard @ 66:00), 14. Tucker, 13. A. Salaber, 12. Okusi (Barrientes @ 60:00), 11. Milne, 10. Adolphus, 9. Boyer (Dunne @ 35:00, Boyer @ 37:00, Dunne @ 67:00), 1. Mohr (Walsh @ 60:00), 2. Hyjer, 3. Hurrell (Davenport @ 60:00), 4. Purdy, 5. Daly (Coleman @ 67:00), 6. De Nysschen (Hendrickson @ 66:00), 7. Bush, 8. Barrett

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.