Varsity Cup Rugby Championship
The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason championship.
The Varsity Cup features fourteen 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 fourteen 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, Central Washington University, Utah University, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Texas, Clemson, and Arkansas State.
In the 33 years of the collegiate rugby championship play 31 of the collegiate national champions have come from one of the fourteen 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 fourteen 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 fourteen Varsity Cup programs set the standard for elite player development in America.
Leading each of the Varsity Cup teams are some of the country’s top coaches with the likes of California’s Jack Clark, a former USA National Team head coach and player and BYU’s David Smyth, himself a former USA Collegiate All American head coach. Both are multiple National Champion winners, Clark with 22 total championships and Smyth with two titles in the last four years.
Also, long-time Dartmouth head coach Alex Magleby, currently on leave to coach the USA 7’s National Team, coached the USA Collegiate All Americans from 2009-11 and was a capped with both the USA Eagles 7’s and 15’s National Teams.
Other top Varsity Cup coaches include Mike Flanagan, a former All American selector, coach of the All Marine Team and the aptly dubbed “Dean of the Military Academy Coaches” given his 22 year tenure at the Naval Academy.
Notre Dame’s Sean O’Leary is also an All American Selector since 2010 and was an assistant coach on the USA U19 team before leading the USA U17’s from 2006-09. In total, O’Leary has over 20 years of collegiate rugby coaching experience.
The U.S. Air Force Academy (AFA) is led by head coach Joe Muehlbauer who not only has 30-plus years of playing experience but he’s also has coached the game for 15-plus years, including the last seven years at the AFA. Muehlbauer has played on all levels of the domestic select-side competition and is in the ERRFU Hall of Fame as a player.
The remaining Varsity Cup coaches come from the professional and international playing levels. Notably among them is former Canadian standout utility back and current UCLA head coach Scott Stewart who garnered 64 caps, three Rugby World Cup appearances (1991, ’95, ’99). He also crossed over to the Canadian 7’s team helping the 1993 and ’95 7’s RWC campaigns. Stewart played professionally from 1991-2001 and coached the Canadian U21’s from 2003-04 before transitioning to UCLA.
Another former International 7’s and professional player, Gavin Hickie, leads the Dartmouth Big Green. Hickie played for the Ireland 7’s team and currently serves as a USA U20’s National Team assistant coach.
Increasing the stability of the Varsity Cup’s coaching staff foundations include other former International players and top level coaches Tom Billups (Cal—USA 7’s, 15’s & USA Head Coach), Kimball Kjar (BYU—USA 15’s, All American, All American Asst. Coach), Mike Coyner (Navy—USA 7’s & USA 7’s Head Coach), Mike MacDonald (Cal—USA Eagles most-capped player—67 caps & former professional from 2004-12, All American), Steve St. Pierre (BYU—USA 7’s, All-American) and David Fee (Notre Dame—USA 7’s & 15’s).
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.
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 & championship rugby there’s a reason the Varsity Cup is known as “American Rugby’s National Collegiate Championship.”