Central Washington used a strong second half to get by UCLA 44-15 in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. After going into the break tied, the Wildcats scored in the opening seconds of the second half and several times more in quick succession to eliminate the Bruins.
The first half was very much a back and forth affair. In his first game in a Wildcat uniform, Darren Cooper found pay dirt five minutes in to give CWU the early lead. Ten minutes later, the Bruins got on the board with a penalty but Korbin Lindell got the second try for CWU to extend the lead to 10-3. Seb Sharpe responded for UCLA, however, earning a try and evening the game at 10-10.
Due to a heavy wind, Central Washington could not play an expansive game in the first half. Combined with a high penalty count, and poor play at the breakdown, the Wildcats could not muster any more points.
“We were playing into the wind in the first half. The game plan was a little more restricted. Kind of keep things in tight and just really just be patient and maintain possession and keep them off the score sheet,” said CWU coach Tony Pacheco. “To be honest, UCLA were better over the ball than us in the first half.”
The second half could not have started any better for the Wildcats, though, as UCLA let the kickoff bounce deep its in own territory. Dom Lindstrom capitalized on the mistake diving in for the score less than 10 seconds into the half.
“I’ve been part of rugby for quite a while now and I haven’t seen a kick quite like that,” Pacheco noted. “That’s a hustle play by Dom there, he’s the kick chase guy on that and he got in the right spot.”
Lindstrom notched his second minutes later off a failed kick to touch. Ian Wright got the third try of the half off a counter attack assisted by Seth Halliman and Tanner Barnes scored right after that to increase the lead to 37-10. In less than 12 minutes, CWU tallied four tries and broke away from UCLA.
Clint Lemkus added the fifth Wildcat try of the half before UCLA stemmed the momentum with a try. It was too little too late, however, and CWU added one more for good measure to seal the match.
Central Washington will play the University of Utah next weekend.
Central Washington will host the UCLA Bruins for a quarterfinals matchup in Ellensburg, Wash. on April 9th. The Wildcats have reached the semifinals in each of the last three years, but a very strong UCLA side will be looking to upend the northwestern school.
The Wildcats come in to the game having played a unique schedule this season. After plowing through the NCRC for the last several years, Central Washington elected to play an independent schedule this season. The Wildcats racked up convincing wins over several northwestern colleges and local club teams in an on and off schedule this spring.
The home side comes in with a 10-3 record overall, however, falling to Olympic Club 19-15, BYU 58-27, and the University of Victoria out of Canada 27-22. The Wildcats come into this match having lost their last two games and with a match against Air Force on April 2nd being cancelled, will have not played a match since March 23rd.
“I think that game being cancelled was really unfortunate. We could have really used it, just to make sure we are not under fit for the Varsity Cup,” said CWU coach Tony Pacheco. “One good thing from that is though we will be going in pretty healthy and at full strength.”
When healthy, CWU is a potent team. The Wildcats have a big and athletic forward pack that is spearheaded by captain Vili Toluta’u and Aladdin Schirmer. The former has a tremendous work rate as an openside flanker and the latter leads from his number 8 position. Schirmer, who has had a stint on the HSBC World Series and is a part of the 50 player squad at the upcoming Eagles Elite Training Squad, is deadly off the back of the scrum and active all over the field.
“He leads from the front and by example. He has just been an inspirational type player,” Pacheco said of his captain.
In the back line, CWU gets back the explosive Tanner Barnes, who missed most of last year due to injury. Complementing the center is the recent USA 7s debutant Seth Halliman.
“He is shaped up into form and has been a pretty good player for us. Having his ability and leadership in the back line has really helped,” Pacheco said of Barnes. “(Halliman) adds a piece we were missing in our back line in terms of a guy who can really shift the ball out and find the ball in phase play.”
For UCLA, it will be a tough challenge but one that the Bruins believe they are prepared to handle. With a tough PAC schedule that included a tough loss to Cal and a strong victory over Utah, the Bruins feel their schedule has set them up nicely for a tough CWU side.
“We are looking forward to it. We have been fortunate to have played really good teams all season in the PAC Conference and expect nothing less than to run into an excellent team in the first round,” UCLA coach Scott Stewart told United World sports.
The Bruins finished 9-2 this season and 4-1 in PAC play. However, the last game UCLA played was on March 3rd, the win over Utah. After giving the guys a break to focus on their studies, UCLA held a training camp to prepare for the match.
“We had our exam period and we brought the guys back and had a camp, a private camp for our training squad. This week we are back to school and we are having a normal week. We have been pretty active in trying to maintain our focus on this game,” Stewart added.
UCLA features a balanced attack. Zach Bonte ,Pierre Courpron and Andrew Alex have been mainstays in the UCLA pack the last several years while Seb Sharpe and captain Niall Barry in the back line.
Although UCLA has an experience and well-tested team, it will be a tough ask to win on the road. For Stewart, it will require a complete effort.
“The key is to play for 80 minutes. Central Washington is not afraid to play. They will run and take the game to you anywhere on the field and you have to be ready for that,” Stewart concluded.
In its first match of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, BYU edged a scrappy UCLA side 45-16 in Westwood, Calif. BYU jumped out to an early lead and with a tenacious, well conditioned side, UCLA was never able to recover.
Joseph Nicholls opened the scoring for the Cougars with a try in the 5th minute and six minutes later Jordan Lowry got his first of two tries on the afternoon. The winger has been a juggernaut out wide all year but he gave credit to his fellow cougars for creating opportunities for him to score.
“Thanks to my teammates, I was able to score at crucial times,” said Lowry of his two tries.
UCLA cut into the lead with a penalty but Kody Thompson extended the BYU advantage to 19-3 half way through the first half. Freshman Alex Vorster dotted down five minutes later but a try from UCLA made the game 26-8 in favor of the visitors. Head coach David Smyth was very pleased with the work of his big forwards.
“Led by our front row: Zane Mendenhall, Alex Vorster, and Kody Thompson, these boys built a good platform for us to work off, defensively we were able to get on our tackles early and as a result we created scoring opportunities,” said Smyth.
In the second half, UCLA struck first with a penalty but were unable to earn any more points until the final moments of the contest. Ara Elkington scored in the 53rd minute for BYU to push the lead to 33-11.
For the next twenty minutes UCLA stifled the BYU attack and Cougar coach David Smyth was impressed with the bruin effort. ““Fair play to UCLA, they were aggressive and did a good job at disrupting our momentum, our performance was uneven at times and we had to work hard for what we got.”
The dam finally broke in the 73rd minute, however, as Matt Jensen and Lowry’s second capped of the win for BYU. UCLA earned a consolation try in the 80th minute to finish the game at 45-16.
The Cougars move to 12-0 on the season and are in search of their 3rd consecutive Penn Mutual Varsity Cup championship. BYU will look to get a step closer when it hosts Central Washington in the semifinals next weekend.
After defeating Air Force 32-12 last weekend, UCLA will welcome two time reigning Penn Mutual Varsity Cup champions, BYU, to town. The Cougars come in with a perfect 11-0 record this year.
BYU is in search of its fourth consecutive national title, dominating their competition throughout the season. The Cougars have outscored opponents 769-142, computing to roughly 70 points scored per contest.
The halfback combination of Luke Motte at scrumhalf and Johnny Linehan at fly half has led the potent BYU attack. A combination upper classmen leadership and freshman have led the forward pack. All American Kyle Sumsion and rookie hooker Alex Vorster lead the way up front for BYU.
With a pair of wins against St. Mary’s and Utah, BYU has been firing on all cylinders. The team is excited to get back to work after a bye week.
“We’re anxious to get back on the pitch and continuing working towards our goal of winning the 2015 Varsity Cup,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s bye of the first round of playoffs.
For the Cougars, the goal has always been to repeat as champions of the Varsity Cup. “Every practice, every win has been focused on winning the Varsity Cup,” said BYU captain and All-American Kyle Sumsion. “Consistency has been key in our success.”
The first challenge to repeat will be a visit to a talented UCLA side that narrowly lost to Cal earlier this year.
For the home side, it will have to be a mistake free performance from the Bruins to defeat a quality BYU side. UCLA coach Scott Stewart emphasized the talent on the BYU squad and indicated his boys will have to win ball and make good use of it.
“We have our work cut out for us. They are an outstanding rugby team in every aspect,” Steward said of BYU. “We are going to have to make the most of our opportunities.”
UCLA is looking forward to playing a tough home opponent at home but knows a team with the notoriety of BYU brings a following.
“I know that Brigham Young travels very well,” Stewart added. “They have a lot of fans out here so we are expecting that there will be fans for both teams in the crowd and that’s what makes it great. We are looking forward to hosting high quality rugby at UCLA.”
UCLA used a strong second half to outlast Air Force 27-12 in Westwood, Calif. Seb Sharpe led the way with a second half hat trick to propel the Bruins into the second round of the Varsity Cup.
The Bruins opened the scoring early with a penalty from Ben Francis. However, that was all the scoring the home side would do in the first half. A combination of unforced errors and excellent defense from the visitors kept UCLA at bay.
“In the first half we made some errors, forced passes and took some penalties that were not disciplined,” said UCLA coach Scott Stewart. “Credit to Air Force, they were defending and tackling very well.”
Air Force took a 7-3 lead with some hard and direct running. “They had the better of us in the first half,” Stewart added” The Zoomies were led by number 8 Garrett Jameson and the rest of the pack that put in a very physical and disciplined first half. Air Force only conceded one penalty in the first stanza.
UCLA made some tactical and personnel changes at halftime and were able to score two tries within a minute of each other. After the Bruins scored the first one, the crowd got into the game and immediately off the ensuing kickoff, UCLA broke the line and dotted down to take a 17-7 lead. Sharpe got both scores and after a penalty extended the lead to 26-7 with his third score of the half.
“He was under used,” Stewart said of Sharpe in the first half. “We got him in the game and he found the work himself. It was good to see him getting involved in the game and supporting other players on the team.”
The Bruins controlled play for the rest of the game, putting in a real team effort in the second half. Air Force salvaged one more try late in the game to cut the score to 26-12. Unfortunately, for Air Force, it was too little too late.
Overall Stewart was very happy with his squad’s performance. “For the most part, I thought we played pretty well in terms of possession and territory.”
The Bruins will host reigning Varsity Cup Champions, BYU, next weekend.
In Westwood, Calif., UCLA will host the Air Force Academy. The winner of this match will face off with BYU in round two of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.
It has been an up and down season for the Bruins this year, finishing in the middle of the pack in the PAC Conference. UCLA blew a large lead against Arizona State and were defeated handily by Utah, yet played Cal to an incredibly tight game, defeated Arizona and beat up Oregon St.
“Inconsistent has been what has been consistent,” said UCLA coach Scott Stewart “There has been some good play at time but not on a week to week basis. In games we have lost we have had good moments but have not been able to close out. It is something we have to improve on now that we are at the business end of the schedule.”
Despite the rocky season, Stewart is pleased with the recent weeks of practice and believes his team can make a deep run into the Varsity Cup. “We have had some good camps over the break here and has been useful for us. Hopefully that pays dividends for us when we play over the weekend.”
ULCA has not played Air Force for several years and is looking forward to playing the Zoomies this weekend. “We know that they are going to be physical and there are some really good athletes on the team,” added Stewart. “Our work is cut out for us.”
For Air Force, the Zoomies come into the Varsity Cup after playing a challenging Western Conference schedule. Finishing 7-1 in conference action, their only blemish in league play came against Colorado State. The Zoomies also battled both other service academies, defeating Navy 38-26 and falling late to Army 19-17 at West Point.
“We have a tough conference and every team we played gave us a tough game,” said Air Force coach Joe Muehlbauer. “We do try to play some of the big boys also. You are not going to get better by playing the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
The Bruins will prove to be another tough test for the Zommies.
“UCLA is a very good team and we can’t make any mistakes. We have to keep the mistakes to a minimum. There the type of team that any misstep or knock on they attack and they are hard to handle when they get on the front foot,” added Muehlbauer.
This game could come down to a battle of scrumhalfs, and who can better command his team’s offense. The diminutive but incredibly feisty and illusive Victor Woo, leads Air Force while Brad Penny commands the UCLA team.
Both teams rely heavily on a number of upperclassmen in the pack. Zach Bonte and Pierre Courpron lead the way for UCLA while Garrett Jameson at number 8 spearheads the Air Force forwards.
Los Angeles, CA–As the 2013 rugby calendar draws near to a close the UCLA Bruins and head coach Scott Stewart looked back on their involvement in the Varsity Cup as crucial to their goal of returning the Bruins to the upper-echelon of collegiate rugby in America.
It wasn’t long ago when UCLA was the marquee collegiate rugby program in the USA. The legendary UCLA head coach Dennis Storer who compiled a 362-46-2 record from 1966-1982 before becoming the USA Eagles first head coach helped build the Bruins’ rugby program into the envy of American rugby.
UCLA rugby head coach Scott Stewart, himself an a former professional and international level rugby player, says honoring the tradition of UCLA rugby and what Storer was able to accomplish, is motivation for him and his players.
“I think past success leads to future success,” Stewart said, “And those teams and Dennis’s programs are very important to the foundation of what we are doing today. Not just through alumni support but a legacy that motivates us to do our very best.”
Despite their first round loss to eventual Varsity Cup champion Brigham Young University the UCLA Bruins are pleased to see the success with which the Varsity Cup has captured the minds of American collegiate rugby and most importantly on the UCLA campus.
The Varsity Cup National Championship featured marquee collegiate rugby programs including UCLA, Cal, Central Washington, Air Force, Notre Dame, Navy, Dartmouth and BYU.
For the Bruins, the choice to compete in the Varsity Cup was an easy one.
“We truly enjoyed the opportunity to participate and host such elite programs of the caliber of Air Force, BYU and Central Washington on our campus in the Varsity Cup Super-Regional quarterfinals,” said Stewart, “Our administration feels the same way and looks forward to another opportunity to do the same in order to grow the Varsity Cup National Championship in the future.”
UCLA Captain Grant Penney echoed, “We believe in the Varsity Cup as the premier postseason championship this country has to offer and are committed to doing our part, through this competition, to grow collegiate rugby on our campus and others.”
On April 20th UCLA enjoyed a record crowd made up of fans of all four teams packing the Bruins’ North Athletic Field stands as they hosted the Varsity Cup Western Super-Regional which saw BYU, Air Force, Central Washington along with UCLA squaring off on the beautiful campus in Westwood, CA.
UCLA is now looking forward to next year’s Varsity Cup, fully believing that it is the best place to prove their ability as a team on a long term basis.
“The Varsity Cup will continue to grow and help the programs involved grow,” said team president Matt Frederickson. “UCLA has been extremely proud to play a part in cementing the Varsity Cup as the premier post-season competition in American Rugby.”
With the Bruins now fully entrenched in preparing for the Collegiate Rugby Championships to take place June 1-2 in Philadelphia Stewart says marquee events like the CRC 7’s, the Varsity Cup and the newly formed PAC Rugby Conference will be the key to the continued development and growth of his program and collegiate rugby at large.
“Playing in the CRC, the PAC Rugby Conference and the Varsity Cup are all steps in the process of returning UCLA Rugby back to the level that Dennis Storer once enjoyed,” Stewart said, “These types of competitions provide us with outstanding opportunities to enhance our relationships with our administrators, fan base, potential recruits and in the general community by way of positive collegiate sports competitions.”
The Bruins set out for Philadelphia and the CRC in two weeks knowing that the futures of UCLA rugby program and the Varsity Cup are bright.
Los Angeles, CA–The Central Washington Wildcats beat a physical Air Force squad 81-28 today to advance to the Varsity Cup National Championships semifinals.
Both teams started the match with gusto as each side worked to probe and penetrate the other’s defensive line.
After some continual pressure an Air Force penalty gave CWU’s Alex Reher a shot at a penalty goal in the 8th minute. Reher’s kick was true and the Wildcats took a small lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
CWU would continue to battle as the Air Force Academy moved into the CWU territory over the course of the ensuing minutes. But four tries by CWU in succession would take the Wildcats’ lead out to 29-0 before AFA would finally break through for their first score in the 29th minute.
CWU would dot down twice more to Air Force’s one try to make the half time scoreline 43-14.
The second was much of the same as CWU’s open-field running set up 5 more tries while Air Force battled well to the finish by scoring a pair of tries.
The final score of 81-28 was in the Wildcats’s favor and head coach Tony Pacheco felt his team hold their own against a strong Air Force side.
“Proud of the way the team played and responded to a physical opponent in Air Force,” Pacheco said, “We will need to be more accurate going into BYU and certainly look forward to another great Varsity Cup competition.”
CWU now travels to Provo, UT to take on the Cougars of BYU on April 27th. Kick-off for the BYU vs. CWU tilt is set for 1pm MT and can viewed online on the Varsity Cup’s YouTube channel.
CWU Director of Rugby Bob Ford was grateful for the Varsity Cup organizers and UCLA for the great Western Super-Regional experience and set up.
“UCLA did a fantastic job of hosting the West Super Regional of the Varsity Cup,” Ford said, ‘The entire set up and execution of the event was focused on the player and fan experience.”
For more information on the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship go to VarsityCup.US.
CWU vs. AFA Scoring Timeline:
Penalty – Alex Reher 3 @ 8:00
Try – Zach Siemens @ 14:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Tyler Coffman @ 19:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Sean Wanigasekera @ 23:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Jacob Bates @ 26:00, Conversion Missed
Try – Air Force @29:00, Conversion Made
Try – Jacob Bates @ 31:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Tanner Barnes @ 35:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Air Force @ 40:00, Conversion Made
Try – Aladdin Schirmer @ 44:00, Conversion Missed
Try – Air Force @ 55:00, Conversion Made
Try – Josh Bower @57:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Air Force @ 60:00, Conversion Made
Try – Josh Bower @64:00, Conversion Missed
Try – Shelby Williams @ 71:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Try – Tanner Barnes @ 73:00, Conversion Alex Reher
Final – CWU: 81 AFA 28
Los Angeles, CA–The BYU Cougars beat the UCLA Bruins for the second time this season to advance to the semifinals of the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championships.
BYU ran in 10 tries for with wing Chris Wernli dotting down for a hat-trick of tries and beating the Bruins by the final score of 69-8.
The Bruins and Cougars met in January with BYU winning 84-14 but today’s quarterfinal match-up saw an improved UCLA team, said BYU head coach David Smyth.
“We were a little rusty not having played in three weeks,” Smyth said, “At the start of the game I thought were were just doing enough, UCLA played very well defensively and they contested every phase. [UCLA head coach] Scott Stewart has really done a great job with his guys and they played confidently throughout the game.”
The Cougars took some time to knock off the rust as Smyth said, with a variety of penalties and errors gave UCLA the lions share of field position and possession in the opening 5 minutes of the game.
But a solid sequence in couter attack led to junior flanker Kyle Sumsion scoring the opening try of the game in the 6th minute.
The first half was riddled with BYU errors in an effort to counter UCLA’s stiff defensive pressure at the break down. But the Cougars managed to not only control the majority of the field position, with over sixty-five percent in BYU’s favor, but they also were able to keep the Bruins out of the end goal.
“We weren’t as effective as we should have been in the first half,” said BYU captain Ryan Roundy, “It’s been a couple weeks since we played, so we were making a couple miscues that normally I don’t think our guys would typically make. But in the end we were able to get it sorted and get back into a bit of a groove and keep them from scoring in the first half.”
BYU’s groove came in the form of junior wing Chris Wernli who scored the next three tries to help put the Cougars up 24-3 by the 48th minute with UCLA’s lone points coming in the first half from a 20 meter penalty kick.
BYU would muster better possession and attacking options in the second half which led to the Cougars’ 7 second half tries.
“At half time we talked about ball security and being more effective in the rucks” said BYU’s Smyth, “The boys did a better job managing the breakdown and enabling us to get on the front foot more, as a result we had a much better second half and were able to finish strongly.”
Cougar kicker Jonny Linehan was also able to notch a solid 9 out of 11 kicks, many of which were wide-angled conversion attempts.
BYU now sets back to Provo to host the Wildcats of CWU this Saturday, April 27th at 1pm on South Field in the semifinal round of the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship.
CWU met the Cougars in Seattle last year with the Cougars’ prevailing 76-7. But Smyth cautioned, that like UCLA today, CWU is a better team than when the Cougars and the Wildcats last met.
“CWU is a quality rugby program,” Smyth said, “They beat Air Force confidently today and have some play makers in the backline and the forwards. We’ll have to be on our best this week.”
CWU beat the Air Force Academy in other Western Super-Regional play at UCLA by the score of 81-28.
CWU’s head coach Tony Pacheco was pleased with his team’s performance against the Air Force Academy.
“Proud of the way the team played and responded to a physical opponent in Air Force,” Pacheco said, “We will need to be more accurate going into BYU and certainly look forward to another great Varsity Cup competition.”
BYU and CWU kick off at 1pm MT on South Field in Provo Saturday, April 27th. The Cougars’ and Wildcats’ clash will be broadcast live and on-demand on the Varsity Cup YouTube channel.
In related Varsity Cup action California beat Notre Dame 77-0 to advance to the semifinals. The Golden Bears will host the Naval Academy in Berkeley after the Midshipmen shut out a strong Dartmouth team 32-0.
Cal and Navy will also play their Varsity Cup semifinal on April 27th with a kick-off time and broadcast plans still to be announced.