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National Championship

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.

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.