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Navy Stymies Notre Dame in Varsity Cup

Navy Stymies Notre Dame in Varsity Cup

by Brett Anker

Navy scored 40 unanswered second half points to put away Notre Dame 57-3 in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. After a sloppy first half that saw points go begging, the Midshipmen exploded for a six try second half.

The Military Academy got on the board first through hooker Dan McCaffrey. Jacob Griffin and Mike Samaniego added tries later in the half to go up 17-0. The Fighting Irish notched a penalty right before halftime to make it 17-3 going into the break.

The Midshipmen missed on a number of opportunities in the first half and with a high penalty count, Navy made it hard on themselves. After a tough first stanza, though, the floodgates opened in the second half. Griffin and McCaffrey both tallied their second while Kevin Kirshmer, Connor McNerney and Zach Coffman all found pay dirt as well.

“We talked at halftime about just getting back to fundamentals. We tried to do a little too much. Be a little too slick with the ball in our hands,” said Navy coach Mike Flanagan. “It was a slippery wet service and it just wasn’t going to happen that way. We just dialed it back a bit, stayed with fundamentals and patience paid off.”

While Navy was explosive on offense, it was extremely impressive on defense. For Flanagan, that is the key to advancing in the Varsity Cup.

“The ability to defend here is way more important than the ability to score. We have got to keep people out of the goal line and I think we did a pretty good job today sort of putting a cap on Notre Dame,” Flanagan said.

Navy has advanced to the semi finals of the Varsity Cup in each of the last three seasons. For the Midshipmen, today was a good rebound from a loss to Army and a solid hit out before a date with Arkansas State next weekend.

“It went about as we expected. We are a pretty solid team. We are still feeling the effects of a loss to Army a little bit and needed to get into the contact.”

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)

Navy vs. Notre Dame | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Navy vs. Notre Dame | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Photo Credit: Colleen McCloskey

The Storied rivalry between Navy and Notre Dame continues this weekend in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. The Midshipmen have reached the semifinals in each of the prior three Varsity Cups and will be looking to continue that streak against a young Notre Dame side.

The Fighting Irish come into the match having played very little rugby. Outside of a tour out west that saw the Irish split with San Diego and Arizona, Notre Dame has only played local Bethel College this spring. With a young and inexperienced side, the Fighting Irish will have to find form quickly against a tough Navy squad.

“All across the board, we really respect the Navy guys. Not only for what they do on the rugby field but for what type of men they are. What choices they make to choose and go represent our country. We are under no false impression how hard these guys are and what toughness means to them. That being said, we expect to get every bit of that toughness out of them,” said Notre Dame coach David Fee.

Freshman fly half Luke Denehey leads the Notre Dame back line. The English born halfback has been getting better throughout the limited season and will need to be on point for Notre Dame to stay competitive. Along with Denehey, captain Pat McMahon spearheads the forward pack from the back of the pack. McMahon controls the line outs for the Irish and will be key to maintaining possession.

“We are a very young team. We are going to play our best to compete against a very tough, very disciplined Navy squad,” Fee added.

Navy comes into the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup after playing an independent spring schedule. The Midshipmen defeated fellow VC cup competitors Clemson, Dartmouth and Penn State this spring. With a close loss to Life, a tour of the United Kingdom, and a tight loss to rival Army, Navy comes into the competition with a 6-2-1 spring record.

The Midshipmen have a history of being a physical team and this squad is no different. The Navy pack is highlighted by a powerful front row, including captain Woody Dewing and hooker Dan McAfferty, Cade Pope at lock and flanker Kevin Kirchmer add to an already strong forward pack.

“Woody Dewing is the emotional leader of our team. He plays loose head for us and is a rock solid guy,” Navy coach Mike Flanagan said of his captain. “Dan has had just a great senior year. A terrific number two.”

Navy is looking forward to a tough matchup with a traditional rival.

“We are looking forward to playing Notre Dame. It is certainly a great rivalry, Navy-Notre Dame. It ranks there with some of the great national rivalries in all of sports. To be able to host Notre Dame here in Annapolis is a real big deal for us,” Flanagan concluded.

Round 1 Recap: Texas Advances Over Notre Dame

Round 1 Recap: Texas Advances Over Notre Dame

For the second consecutive year, Texas eliminated Notre Dame to advance to the second round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. In Austin, Texas, the Longhorns used two second half scores and solid defense to defeat the Fighting Irish 22-17.

Texas started strong and opened the scoring with a try in the opening minutes. Tommy Gilmore bashed through the Notre Dame defense for a try under the posts and a 7-0 lead.

The Fighting Irish controlled much of the play for the next fifteen minutes, earning several penalties at the breakdown. Texas struggled to control a bigger and stronger Irish pack and were penalized as a result. Notre Dame capitalized on the penalties when they drove a maul over the line for a score. Notre Dame missed the conversion and Texas retained a 7-5 lead.

They were really big, really strong and really heavy,” Texas coach Chris Hopps said of Notre Dame. They were a load at the set pieces.”

Notre Dame continued to dominate the ruck area, garnering several more penalties. The referee’s patience wore thin, and he sent a Texas flanker to the sin bin. The Irish spent much of the bin time in Texas’ territory but a knock-on on the goal stymied the Notre Dame attack.

Things settled down for Texas, however, and the Longhorns garnered the only three points earned during the penalty.

“I thought we faced some adversity,” said Hopps. “”We had to make some adjustments to the way that the breakdown was being called. We had to throttle back our aggression. It became more about pressuring them into mistakes rather than winning the ball back.”

At 10-5, Notre Dame fought its way back into the game with a score off a quick tap. The Irish caught the Texas defense napping and darted over to tie the game. The conversion was missed and the game went to halftime nodded at 10 apiece.

Texas controlled the early stages of the second half. Taking a page out of the Notre Dame book, the Longhorns drove down the field by attacking the fringes. The home side established sustained pressure inside the 22-meter line and twice earned penalties 5-meters out. A knock on and a penalty against Texas, however, ended both attacks and Notre dame was able to clear their line.

The defensive pressure from Texas was very strong in the second half, and a strip they earned at a ruck resulted in the first score the second stanza.  Off the turnover, the ball found Felix Olazaran, who outflanked the Notre Dame defense and fended off two tacklers to score a 50-meter try. With the conversion, the Longhorns led 17-10.

The Longhorns added to their lead several minutes later with a well executed try off a scrum. Texas drew the Notre Dame defensive line in and the blindside wing Matt Young split a gap to score down the right sideline.

For the remainder of the second half, Notre Dame attempted to cut into the Texas lead but a strong defensive effort kept the Irish at bay for almost the remainder of the game.

“I thought our guys played great from beginning to end in lose play,” added Hopps. “I thought we swarmed in the tackle and were read it well and were able to cover it well. We really forced them to work down the field. Obviously, I thought that was the difference in the game.”

Notre Dame once again caught the Texas defense napping on a quick tap, however, cutting the lead to 22-17. With very little time left, Texas forced Notre Dame into touch on the ensuing kickoff. The Longhorns maintained possession in the dying moments to punch their ticket to the second round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.

Texas will host the University of California next weekend.

Round 1 Preview: Texas vs. Notre Dame

Round 1 Preview: Texas vs. Notre Dame

The first game of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup will kickoff under the lights in Austin, Texas between the University of Texas and Notre Dame. Since Notre Dame is a Jesuit University, Texas agreed to play the game on Friday night to allow Notre Dame students to return to campus for the rest of the weekend.

In the 2014 Varsity Cup, Texas traveled to South Bend and came away with a 55-33 victory. Notre Dame will have their chance to exact revenge on Texas, but will have to come away with a tough road victory.

It will be even more of a challenge for the Fighting Irish, as a number of players picked up injuries in the recent weeks. Already a young side, Notre Dame had to make a number of roster adjustments after a bruising encounter while touring in Arizona and after hosting a leg of the ACRL 7s series this past weekend.

“We were so young last year, so the issue we had was we had to get a greater IQ and that is what we were doing by playing more games. What has transpired is more games has led to more injuries,” said Notre Dame coach Sean O’Leary added.

In addition to more games, the Fighting Irish have adopted a strength and conditioning program. “It has helped us start to develop size, start to develop explosiveness,” O’Leary added. “We see that as a promising way to start to compete at this next level, which is something we want to do.”

The visitors will rely heavily on sophomore captain Luc Joseph. Joseph, who just returned from a stint in Canada, with the Men’s Junior All Americans will lead a team comprised of mostly freshman and sophomores.

For Texas, hosting a big time school such as Notre Dame is a big step for the rugby program.

“Our guys are really excited,” said Texas coach Chris Hopps. “Notre Dame needs no introduction, they are one of the premier institutions in the United States and have a great rugby program…This is one of the biggest games we have ever hosted at UT, so we are really focusing on putting on a good performance.”

The Longhorns will look to repeat the success of last year’s performance. The Longhorns jumped out to an early lead and were able to withstand a Notre Dame comeback in the second half to earn a ticket to the second round.

“I know that Notre Dame was very young, we probably caught them at the right time” Hopps of said of last year’s meeting. “I think we caught them pretty quickly and it gave our guys enough of a front foot to build some space and build a lead.”

Hopp’s indicated that he does not believe there is very much between the sides and it was more a reflection of the moment. “That game was more to do with what happened on the day rather than us being a better team.”

Unlike Notre Dame, Texas has a strong class of seniors leading the way. Captains Taylor Hayes and Tommy Gilmore have been around the program a long time and provide strong leadership.

“These guys are definitely the face of the program, they are the best players and are generally the hardest workers,” Hopps stated.

Gilmore and Hayes highlight a strong senior class that includes Tanner Avery and Connor O’Leary, both of who have played in four Collegiate Rugby Championship events and several Varsity Cups.

The game will kickoff at 8PM ET on Friday evening.

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.

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.