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Central Washington Pulls Away From Utah in Varsity Cup

Central Washington Pulls Away From Utah in Varsity Cup

by Brett Anker

Central Washington hammered Utah 58-5 to advance to the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinals. After two years in a row of close contests in the quarterfinals, the Wildcats ran away with the 2016 contest to claim its 3rd consecutive win over Utah.

Despite winning the game handily, the match got off to a rocky start for Central Washington. Utah played the first 20 minutes of the match inside the CWU 22. A number of penalties resulted in the referee going to his wallet on multiple occasions. For roughly seven minutes of the half, the Wildcats played with 12 men on the field. Nonetheless the Central Washington defense didn’t break.

“I really commend our guys for playing fantastic defense against a quality opponent when we were down a few members in the first half,” CWU Head Coach Tony Pacheco said. “It was a gutsy gutsy performance by the 12 who were on the field. We have to be better with our discipline, so we do not put ourselves in these types of situations.”

After weathering the storm, Central Washington struck first through Aladdin Schirmer. Clint Lemkus added the second, while Scott Dean and Dominic Lindstrom each tallied their first of multiple on the day. At half, the Wildcats led 26-0.

“It was just a matter of us getting our hands on the ball,” Pacheco added. “For the first 20 minutes we defended the entire time, and were in survival mode. When we were able to get back to full strength and get our hands on the ball, we carried very well. There was a lot of support all over the field and were able to maintain possession and score tries,”

The Wildcats exploded for five more tries in the second while Utah only managed a single score. CWU dominated in the scrum, disrupting Utah ball, and providing a platform for the backline. Dean needed no other invitation as he dotted down two more times in the second half to complete the hat trick.

“We were able to give him a lot of front foot ball… and when we were on the front foot they just were not able to transfer across the field quick enough. He was able to take a couple gaps and score a couple nice tries,” Pacheco said of Dean.

Central Washington will travel to Strawberry Canyon to take on Cal next weekend.

2016 Quarterfinal Match Schedule | April 16th

2016 Quarterfinal Match Schedule | April 16th

VARSITY CUP QUARTERFINAL MATCH SCHEDULE | APRIL 16TH:

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

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

Army vs. Cal

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

Dartmouth vs. BYU

– Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
– Time: 1:00 PM EDT
– Webcast: Live on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA5QqeCNdDY)

Navy vs. Arkansas State

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

Utah vs. CWU

Location: Salt Lake Regional Sports Complex, 2280 N. Rose Park Lane, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Time: 12:00 PM MDT
Webcast: KUTE Radio (http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/h06yz)

Utah vs. CWU | 2016 Quarterfinal Preview

Utah vs. CWU | 2016 Quarterfinal Preview

by Brett Anker

Central Washington will travel to the University of Utah for the second round of the Penn Mutual Varsity. The Wildcats and the Utes have faced each other in each of the last two Varsity Cup quarterfinals with CWU coming out on top in both.

In 2014, a last second penalty from Josh Bower staved off an upset from Utah. Bower nailed a penalty from roughly 40 meters out to win 25-24. Last year the Wildcats won more comfortably, but it was still a competitive 18-7 match.

Utah and Central Washington are no strangers. For years they played each of in the Pacific Coast playoffs and after facing off in the last two Varsity Cup’s, the school’s are very familiar with one another. Nonetheless, CWU coach Tony Pacheco believes that both squads have changed over the last couple of seasons and the game could be vastly different from year’s prior.

“We know each other well obviously, being matched up for the last couple of year,” Head coach Tony Pacheco said. “I think having seen how we’ve played, I think we’re a different team from last year and Utah the same. I think it’s going to be about those 80 minutes and not so much about our previous matchups.”

Coach Pacheco stressed the importance of showing up and playing for a full 80 minutes. Utah is battle tested and takes advantage of mistakes. In a close contest, that could be the difference.

“It’s very much ‘what you see is what you get’ from them,” Pacheco added. “They run hard, they tackle hard, they scrum hard. Everything they do is 100 percent and they are on the job for 80 minutes. So if you switch off mentally and miss your assignment they will take advantage of it. This tournament is about us getting better throughout, that’s the next step. We have to be better this week than we were last week if we want to advance.”

Utah survived a scare last weekend. The Utes nearly gave up a two score advantage with less than 10 minutes to play. Despite a majority of the team being under the weather due to a flu circulating through the squad, Utah bounced back to win the game in the waning moments.

For Utah, it is always about consistency. Although coach Pacheco stressed that Utah comes to play all the time, Utah struggled to put together complete games all season. Coach Jon Law thinks Utah cannot afford to many mistakes if they are going to come away with a win against CWU.

“It is always a battle with Central Washington. If you look back at the games that we have played the last couple of years, they have been really exciting rugby, well matched pretty even,” said Law. “With us being down a little bit this year, not really having all the horses in the stable, we are going to have to play a nearly flawless game to make it competitive.”

The game will kickoff at 1PM PST.

Utah Thwarts Air Force Comeback in Varsity Cup

Utah Thwarts Air Force Comeback in Varsity Cup

by Brett Anker

In the most thrilling game of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup opening round, Utah edged Air Force 36-31. The Utes blew a late lead but managed to score with under five minutes to play snatch the victory from the Zoomies.

“That was the kind of game that was probably great for the fans but terrible for the coaches,” Utah coach Jon Law said of the back and forth contest.

Taylor Thomas opened the scoring for the Utes. The winger just returned from injury and made a huge impact on the game. Thomas scored the eventual game winner late in the second half.

“Taylor’s performance today was gutty. He was still missing a bit of his step. He is ok linearly but laterally he is not what he was. He is coming back from a knee injury,” added Law. “Most of the season we have been playing him at outside center and we felt that today he was a better matchup at wing.”

Fellow back line player Casey Raymond scored again for Utah before Air Force got on the board. The Zoomies responded, however, with two tries to take a 12-10 lead. The pendulum swung back in favor of Utah after the two Zoomie scores, with Gabe Ruflin and Josh Webber dotting down for Utah. At the half, Utah went in with a 22-12 lead.

Air Force struck back early in the second half but Utah once again stymied its momentum. Adding two more tries, the Utes led 29-19 with less than 10 minutes to play. Utah seemingly dodged a few bullets as well, as Air Force had two tries called back. One try was called back for a knock and the other the referee awarded a penalty to Utah.

Things started to get interesting, however. Air Force barged in for a try to cut the lead to 29-24. Minutes later, the Zoomies were deep in their own territory and not looking dangerous. All of a sudden, Air force busted through the line for a 60-meter run. Braden Smith received an offload and sprinted the rest of the way for a try under the posts. With the conversion, Air Force led 31-29.

“All credit to Air Force. As is to be expected from Air Force, or for that matter any service academy. They know of no other way to play for a full 80,” Law added.

Utah kicked off with very little time left but managed to get a turnover deep in Air Force territory. After a few phases, Thomas found space out wide and scampered in for the game winning score.

The Utes showed a lot of grit in this game. Coming into the weekend, nearly the entire team had come down with the flu. Law indicated that they were a bit sluggish on their recycling and support but got the job done nonetheless.

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)

Utah vs. Air Force | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Utah vs. Air Force | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Air Force will travel to Utah in the first round of the Varsity Cup. It will be the second time the Zoomies and the Utes meet this year, with the first matchup going the way of Utah in the fall.

Although Utah defeated Air Force 41-30 in the fall, a long time and many matches have passed. For the Zoomies, who underwent a coaching change this season, it has been ample time to get acclimated to a new system.

“The players have really come a long way. I think over the last six months as far as the style of play that we have been trying to get them introduced to,” said Air Force coach Denny Merideth. “Obviously, Utah has had some tough matches recently as well. So we know that they have improved across the board with their entire team… I think both teams are going to be a lot more prepared. Both of them will have worked on their structure a lot over the last several months. So I think the timing of this match with Utah is going to be perfect.

The Zoomies went 3-2 in DIA conference play in the fall and took on a tough non-conference schedule in the spring. The Academy got wake up calls against BYU, Cal, and Life, lost to Navy and beat Clemson. Along with a victory over Army in the fall, the Zoomies have tested themselves against five tough Varsity Cup opponents.

Leading the way for the Air Force Academy is inside center Ben Burmester and second row player Grigor Kerdikoshvili.

“Ben is just a very intense player and an extremely good leader as far as the captain is concerned working with the team. He is an extremely solid tackler and hard runner. It is going to be interesting to see how he does in this match. He has led the guys both physically and mentally,” added Meredith.

Air Force is looking to even the score with Utah, and after a tough schedule, Merideth believes it is possible if his team meets certain conditions.

“We have got to maintain our defensive structure on the outside and be able to hold them, number one. Number two, we have got to be able to retain possession of the ball. That has been a challenge for us at different stages of the season. Those will be our two biggest emphasis points as we go through this week of preparation,” Merideth concluded.

While Air Force played a tough schedule, Utah may have played arguably a tougher schedule. Utah went 5-0 in the DIA West play during the fall campaign, but a tough spring schedule yielded a 4-7 record. The Utes played St. Mary’s and UCLA in a three-day span after winning the Las Vegas 7s and followed that up with a battle with West Point and the PAC finale against Cal. A week later the Utes took on BYU in the Wasatch Cup. Playing such a tough, condensed schedule has had both its pros and cons.

“We feel like our season has been a little more successful than our record would indicate. There were a few teams on our schedule that we know would be challenges for us. Those teams being BYU St. Mary’s and Cal. Frankly, we expect to compete and win in the others,” said Utah assistant coach Jon Law. “After the Las Vegas stretch where were absolutely fatigued and broken down, we didn’t really get back on top of things. We have had to play some first year players, some freshman, some guys who haven’t had a lot of rugby under their belt. From that standpoint, the schedule has been really good.”

Hooker Chad Gough and flanker Gabe Ruflin lead a very talented forward pack. Gough has a real nose for the try zone, and Ruflin’s work rate is extremely strong. Diminutive winger Casey Raymond is a nifty runner and sure tackler and outside center Taylor Thomas returns from injury for the game.

“Gabe does so many little things on the pitch well. His work rate is high. He is an acrobat in the air. He is one of the emotional leaders of the team,” Law said of his flanker. “Casey Raymond, that guy has got a heart of a lion. He is about four foot eight and about 111 pounds but he punches above his weight every game.”

It should be a good one between the Zoomies and the Utes. With both teams playing tough schedules this year, and both having strong pedigrees, either team could walk away victorious.

Quarterfinal Recap: CWU Slips By Utah

Quarterfinal Recap: CWU Slips By Utah

In a gusting wind, Central Washington slipped by Utah 18-7 in a rare low scoring game for two hired powered offenses. The Wildcats used stout defense and a couple of timely scores to edge the Utes.

The first 30 minutes of the contest were back and forth with both teams trying to establish possession. A strong wind, however, bogged down both offenses and left chances gone begging.

The Wildcats overcame an early yellow card and were the first on the board in the 35thminute with a try from.  CWU was finally able to exploit an overload on the outside and the blindside flanker, Maverick Schirmer, dotted down in the corner to give the home side the 5-0 lead. The game would stay this way going into the break.

CWU doubled its advantage after a long run from Aladdin Schirmer. Maverick’s older brother has been a force all season for the Wildcats from his number 8 position and continues to create opportunities in the postseason for Central. Freshman Dominic Lindstrom barreled over from five meters following the long run and several phases.

“I have got to give it to Aladdin,” said CWU coach Tony Pacheco. “He had a really terrific game. You know senior day, last chance to play on the home ground, he took it upon himself to carry the boys.”

Utah responded with a try of its own, however, off a penalty. Tonata Lauti took the penalty quickly and darted over under the posts to cut the lead to 10-7. The Utes continued to apply pressure after the score, but CWU stemmed the momentum with a tough penalty 40 meters out. Josh Bower nailed the kick through a stiff wind to extend the lead to 13-7.

It remained a one score game until the 77th minute when Aladdin Schirmer sealed the victory with an unconverted try. CWU ran out the final three minutes to limit Utah to seven points and earn a berth in the next round.

“Our defensive shape was great today,” Pacheco said of his team. “We were really committed to it. We fell off some tackles at times but when you play a team like Utah you will have to defend for a lot of phases….I thought we did a pretty good job of handling that.”

Ultimately, Central Washington made a few more plays in the opposition territory to come away with victory. Pacheco believes that it was that execution that paved the way to victory.

“We are definitely happy to get the win and it was a hard fought contest. Both teams will probably look back on it and say we had the opportunity to score and didn’t take advantage of them. Fortunately we took advantage of three trying scoring opportunities.”

CWU will travel to BYU for a semi-final matchup next weekend.

Round 2 Preview: CWU vs. Utah

Round 2 Preview: CWU vs. Utah

For the second consecutive year, Central Washington will take on Utah in the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. Utah is looking to exact some revenge after a last second penalty from Josh Bower, lifted the Wildcats to a 26-24 victory over the Utes.

Unlike last year, however, Central Washington will have the advantage of playing in front of a home crowd. Utah gave them all they could handle last year, and CWU coach Tony Pacheco expects another tough game this year.

“They are good side, they can beat a lot of teams across the country,” said Pacheco. “They come from an area where rugby is a big deal and there is so much talent in that space that you know they are always going to be really good.”

Having played them in last year’s competition, both sides are familiar with each other and made adjustments for the upcoming rematch.

“They really did a good job of slowing down our ball last year. That will be an area of focus for us. We need to make sure we are looking after our possession the best way we can and if we do that we should be alright,” said Pacheco.

The Utah coaching staff added similar sentiments. The Utes learned quite a bit from the film from last year’s game, and from the things Cal did successfully to eliminate Central Washington in the 2014 Varsity Cup semi-finals.

“This is a lot like it was last year,” said Utah assistant Coach Jon Law. “I think both teams are quite similar to where we were last year as far the results that we have posted. We have done a lot of scouting and think we are prepared for their attack.”

Utah is coming off an unexpected bye as a result of the Oklahoma forfeit. Despite having two weeks off, Law believes that a rigorous schedule has prepared them for a tight contest.

“If we had had it our way we would have preferred to play but that wasn’t the case,” added Law. “I think we are ready. The boys are really looking forward to this. We have played a number of tough games already this year and I think the boys will know how to respond.”

The bye week may turn out to be a blessing for a dinged up and ill Utah side. Utah took the week to allow the players to recover from sickness and injury. Law indicated that there is always a worry about the extended time off, but believes the rest will ultimately be just what the doctor ordered.

“We gave the boys some time off. We had a lot of sickness on our team and the boys were able to take some time off to heal. We had some little nicks and bruises and things common for this time of year. I think it was very beneficial to us,” Law said of the time off.

Utah successfully held a potent Wildcat offense to 26 points last year and will need to do the same in order to advance to the semi-finals of the Varsity Cup. The Utah coaching staff stressed the importance of tackling for this game. Although it is essential to tackle well in any rugby game, the potency of the Central Washington attack could wreak havoc on Utah.

“They are a dynamic team. They attack well,” Law indicated. “They have got very mobile and effective loose forwards that use the vertical plain very well. They have backs that can stretch the lateral plain pretty well so we are just going to have to be very active, maintain our connections on defense and tackle well.”

The game will kickoff at 4pm ET.

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.

#1 Cal Aims for PAC Crown vs #8 Utah at Homecoming

#1 Cal Aims for PAC Crown vs #8 Utah at Homecoming

BERKELEY – In a Saturday of firsts, No. 1 California aims to clinch the first championship in the inaugural PAC Rugby Conference while alumni, fans and families celebrate Homecoming on Witter Rugby Field for the first time since 2010 as the Golden Bears host No. 8 Utah on March 30 at 1 p.m.

The last time they met, the Bears squeaked by the Utes, 23-22, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City on a penalty kick from 40 meters with no time remaining by fullback Jake Anderson. On Saturday, both teams have PAC title aspirations on the line.

Cal is in the PAC conference driver’s seat with a 4-0 record (17-0 overall). Although the Utes have one conference blemish, a 50-32 loss suffered March 9 at UCLA, Utah can also secure the PAC title with a big win over the Bears this weekend followed by another over Oregon State on April 13.

Even if Utah (7-3, 2-1 PAC) upsets the Bears, Cal can still clinch the conference on Saturday with a four-try effort and/or a final score seven points or less in favor of the Utes (see rankings and points system below).

A Utah win on Saturday could also open the door for the Bruins to be crowned PAC champions, a scenario that would require Cal to come away from Homecoming with nothing gained in points standings and UCLA to win its last two matches with bonus points at Arizona and Arizona State (schedule below).

In control of their conference destiny on a day that celebrates Cal’s 131-year history back on its home field, the Bears can easily be assumed to be primed for a perfect performance against Utah. But coming on the heels of an always-emotional trip to British Columbia and a little time off for spring break, Cal will once again be challenged to step up its game against a formidable foe.

For fans, Saturday marks one of the last opportunities to enjoy a home match in the spring 2013 season. The Bears will host Saint Mary’s in the resumption of that local rivalry to end the regular season on Saturday, April 13, at 1 p.m.

The Bears’ postseason is already set with the Varsity Cup, in which Cal faces Notre Dame in an April 20 super-regional showdown at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The higher-seeded winner between that outcome and that of the Navy-Dartmouth super-regional will host a semifinal April 27, giving Cal and its fans one more possible home game in the postseason followed by the championship on May 4 in Provo, Utah.

After the Varsity Cup, Cal will compete in the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s June 1-2 in Philadelphia.

PAC Rugby Conference Standings

Team W-L-T Points
California 4-0-0 20
UCLA 2-1-0 11
Utah 2-1-0 11
Oregon State 0-2-0 0
Arizona 0-2-0 0
Arizona State 0-2-0 0

(Points System: Win = 4 pts, Tie = 2 pts, Loss = 0 pts, Score 4+ Tries = 1 pt, Lose by 7 or less = 1 pt)