Salt Lake City, UT—In lead up to today’s Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Rugby Championship, the coaches and administrators of the participant schools met for a series of coordination and development meetings to review the 2015 competition and set plans for the future.
Along with these coordination meetings, the coaches named Clemson University head coach, Justin Hickey, as the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup 2015 Coach of the Year.
Hickey, who was named to the USA Rugby Collegiate All American coaching staff along with Varsity Cup fellow head coach Gavin Hickie from Dartmouth, has quickly taken Clemson from a mid-tier collegiate rugby program in the Atlantic Coast Rugby League (ACRL) to the 2013 and 2014 champions.
Hickey was also named the ACRL Coach of the Year in both of those championship seasons.
Overall, Hickey has led the Tigers to a strong 28-4 conference record over five seasons at the helm.
In the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, Hickey led his Tigers to a 26-22 upset victory over Arkansas State University, but were up-ended narrowly at the United States Naval Academy the following week by the score of 23-24.
After their team’s loss to the Midshipmen, Hickey and the Tigers finished as Runners-Up at the ACRL 7’s Championship the following week, and therefore , qualify to the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia May 30-31.
Hickey was also a member of the 2012 USA Rugby Under-20 Junior World Rugby Trophy Champion coaching staff.
“Justin is one of the Varsity Cup’s rising coaches,” said Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Director Dan Lyle, “And is proof that consistent effort and a solid vision can lead to the development of a winning program. Justin is another example of what makes the Varsity Cup a great avenue for the development of collegiate game and student-athletes.”
After being named the 2015 Coach of the Year, Hickey was obviously flattered.
“To be selected as the Coach of the Year is humbling,” Hickey said, “The room was packed with men that I look up and have interacted with over my coaching career, and this is just as much an award for our players, alumni and support staff. I look forward to continuing our efforts at Clemson and am grateful for the opportunities that the Varsity Cup offers our program to grow and develop.”
Hickey and the rest of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Head Coaches will be on hand at today’s championship match between the California Berkeley Bears and the Brigham Young University Cougars.
Kick-off is slated for 4pm EST and will be broadcast live on national television on NBCSN. Check your local listing for channels.
BERKELEY – California is back on the road to face Santa Clara University at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 14, on Bellomy Field.
Head coach Jack Clark is expected to field seven frosh-sophs in the Starting XV as Golden Bears (12-1) face a Santa Clara team (4-5) that most recently put up 44 points on the road at San Diego State after beating UC Santa Barbara and Stanford, and keeping it close against Colorado, earlier in its 15s schedule.
All-America open-side flanker Alec Gletzer will captain the Cal side in his first action since exiting with injury in the first half of the “World Cup” opener against UBC on February 7. Gletzer, a senior, will work with a majority of sophomores in the forwards, including Kevin Sullivan, Tomas Zerbino, John Spradling and Connor Sweet.
“Alec hasn’t played in more than five weeks and it’s important for him to get a few minutes prior to Vancouver next week,” said head coach Jack Clark in reference to the Sunday, March 22, “World Cup” finale that follows Saturday’s trip to Santa Clara. “Irrespective of the score, we will get the players likely to be selected for Vancouver out of the match early and let the underclassmen take us home.”
Freshman Matthew Coyle returns at flyhalf against the Broncos after an impressive match in the Bears’ last outing, March 7 at Oregon State. So too returns Karl Thornton at fullback, giving Jake Anderson the weekend off. Freshman winger Jake Goena will start after coming off the bench in Corvallis.
The Bears bench in Santa Clara on Saturday night is expected to include all freshmen and sophomores in the forwards. Freshman Michael Goodwin and sophomore Jamie Howells are the reserve halfback pairing, and freshmen Aiden Flynn, Schuyler Whiting, William Fuller, Zachary Tavenner will be among the reserves in the backline.
Sunset will occur midway through Saturday’s match, making it the second straight night game between the Bears and Broncos. In their last meeting, on Feb. 19, 2014, in Berkeley, Santa Clara was on the heels of the Bears, trailing 19-13 at the break before Cal scored nine unanswered tries in the second half to win, 74-13.
Having most recently played two solid matches against Utah and Oregon State to wrap up its conference schedule, Cal will strive to show continued improvement across the breadth of its roster against Santa Clara. Staying at or close to its stout defensive average of 6.9 ppg allowed would be a good indication that the Blue and Gold was committed to its effort.
After its meeting with the Broncos, the Bears will make their annual pilgrimage north of the border in the series finale of the ”World Cup” seeking to overcome a 13-point disadvantage in 80 minutes against British Columbia at Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday, March 22, at 1 p.m.
New York, NY – With the addition of Arizona State and Arkansas State, the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship teams have continued to expand for the 3rd consecutive year to fourteen of the premier college rugby programs in the country. The schedule and format for this years’ Penn Mutual Varsity Cup will once again feature four rounds of competition, with the championship final being hosted at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT. NBCSN will provide live television coverage of the entire championship final on May 2nd, 2015.
The two time reigning champions, BYU, and two-time runner up, the University of California return to vie for the title of Varsity Cup National Champion. Since the first National Collegiate Championship, Varsity Cup universities have won a total of 31 national titles in a span of 33 years. Moreover, Varsity Cup universities have earned 68 final four places during this same period with Air Force, Arkansas State, BYU, Cal, Dartmouth, Navy, and Utah all having played their way to the final four. Since the inception of the Varsity Cup National Championship, Central Washington University and UCLA have added to the Varsity Cup’s list of final four participants. This brings total Varsity Cup university final four appearances to 76 over the course of 35 years. Over the course of these past 35 years, Varsity Cup universities have been crowned National Champions a total of 33 times.
The first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship will take place on Saturday, April 4th at the site of the six highest-ranking teams. Central Washington will host PAC Rugby newcomers Arizona State while the University of Oklahoma will visit the always-competitive University of Utah. In the opposite corner of the bracket, the United States Naval Academy will travel to Brophy Field to challenge perennial Ivy Champion Dartmouth, and Arkansas State will head to South Carolina to take on Clemson. UCLA is set to face-off against three time national champion Air Force in Southern California on UCLA’s Westwood Campus, and the first round rematch between Texas and collegiate sports icon Notre Dame will close out the first week of games.
The eight teams to advance to the second round will square off on April 11th at four host campus venues that will be announced following the completion of the first round of competition. Top seeded BYU will travel to the winner of UCLA vs. Air Force while Cal will travel to the victor of the Texas vs. Notre Dame game.
The third quarterfinal matchup will see the winner of Arizona State and Central Washington facing off with the victor of Oklahoma and Utah. The final four teams, Dartmouth, Navy, Arkansas State and Clemson will yield the final game of quarterfinal weekend.
The Semi-finals will take place on April 18th at the site of the two highest remaining seeds.
For the second consecutive year, the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final will take place at future Olympic Soccer Qualifier host Rio Tinto Stadium (home to MLS Team Real Salt Lake), in Sandy, Utah. On May 2nd, the match will be aired live on the NBCSN 2PM Mountain Time (MT).
About The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby National Championship
The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate rugby postseason national 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 the most recognized and accomplished university rugby programs in the country vying for the right to be named the “Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Collegiate 15s Champions.”
For more information, please contact Blake Mannion
BERKELEY – Sixteen new student-athletes have joined the Golden Bears this fall as rugby embarks on its 133rd year as the oldest intercollegiate sport on campus at the University of California.
With an even split of eight forwards and eight backs, many with a Cal history in their families and most of whom attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Sumer Camps, the incoming class reflects a typical geographic profile in recent years, ranging from San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay to Sacramento and Southern California, with two international students from the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, respectively.
“Really happy to have these boys with us at Cal,” said head coach Jack Clark. “They’re strong students with good athletic potential. Overall, a good fit for us.”
STRONG SACRAMENTO PRESENCE
Six new student-athletes have joined the team from the Sacramento area, five as freshmen and one as a transfer sophomore.
The collegiate rugby pipeline to Cal from Jesuit High School is alive and well, with three student-athletes coming to the Bears after finishing their careers with the Marauders. Jesuit, the 2014 Northern California champs who almost repeated in the spring as national champions, falling 27-26 in the NIT Single-School final, is coached by John Shorey and managed Fred Khasigian, a former U.S. international rugby player and father of former Bear All-Americans Kirk and Kyle Khasigian, with Kirk also a former U.S. international. Also on the Jesuit coaching staff is Jason Law, a former vice captain at Cal, 2011 All-American and national champion who earned two famed Blues in victories for Oxford University over Cambridge at Twickenham Stadium in 2011 and ’12.
Standing at 6-0 and 187 pounds is Matthew Coyle, a flyhalf/center from Granite Bay, Calif. Nine Cal alumni in his family include his father, William, who works in commercial real estate, and his uncle Richard, who rowed crew for the Bears. His mother, Julie, is a teacher who graduated from Chico State. Additional athletic connections in Coyle’s family include two cousins who played volleyball at UC San Diego and two grandfathers who played basketball at Michigan and football at Wisconsin, respectively. At Jesuit, Coyle had better than a 4.0 GPA while also competing in varsity football as a kicker, receiver and defensive back throughout high school in addition to two years of basketball. Coyle, who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, has a sister, Brooke, at Oregon. Following his collegiate career, the undeclared major hopes to pursue a post-graduate degree in business.
Zachary Tavenner is a 5-7, 167-pound wing from Sacramento who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2013 and ’14. During his Jesuit career, he was recognized by the Sacramento Bee as well as Sports Stars Magazine, a California high-school publication that named Tavenner its student-athlete of the week in the spring. Also a forward on the Jesuit soccer team as a freshman and sophomore, Zach was the starting outside center on Jesuit’s 2013 national championship rugby team and was named team MVP as a senior. He also earned academic honors as a senior. His mother, Cindy, is a commercial property manager; his brother, Steven, also played rugby at Jesuit. The undeclared Tavenner, whose great-grandfather Ignacio Paul Chavez also went to Cal to study engineering, may pursue business or computer science at the University.
Bringing his forward’s skills to the Bears from the Marauders is Trent Terra, a 6-2, 215-pounder from Carmichael, Calif., who is the third Jesuit alumnus to join Cal rugby this year. Slated to play flanker for the Blue and Gold, Terra attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2013. He was a starting lock on both the 2013 national championship team and the 2014 national runners-up, captaining the squad as a senior, when he was named the 2014 Forward of the Year by his coaches. On the gridiron, Terra played two years of high school football on the defensive line, starting as a tackle his senior season. Terra worked for the school yearbook among his extracurricular activities at Jesuit. His mother, Leigh Ann, is a project manager; his father, Sean, is a network analyst. Currently undeclared, he may pursue a degree in political science.
From Elk Grove, Calif., and Christian Brothers High School comes Ryan Hedum, a 6-0, 208-pound hooker who was a three-year Capital Valley Scholar Athlete as a member of the Falcons. Also a two-year veteran of Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, Hedum was a two-sport captain at Christian Brothers in football, where he was a two-way lineman, and rugby, the latter under coaches Mason Gunn, Andy Smith, Jim Seruo, Bob Luttrell and Mike Jackson. Ryan’s mother, Diana, is a marketing professional who graduated from Chico State and played post-graduate club rugby; his father, Kyle, is an attorney who graduated from San Diego State. Two grandparents and a great uncle are Cal alumni. His uncle Mike Davis played football and rugby at UC Davis and his brother, Chris, played rugby at Oregon State. Hedum is progressing through post-operative rehabilitation with the goal of resuming rugby activities later this year. His major is undeclared.
Aidan Flynn is a 5-11, 185-pound flyhalf/center who graduated from McClatchy High School in Sacramento, where he earned AP Honors and was the president of his student body as a junior and senior. A veteran of four Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps, Flynn also played football for the Lions, lining up as a quarterback, running back, fullback, receiver, kicker, punter, returner and linebacker, earning all-league honors as a junior and senior, and captaining his final campaign. He also played baseball and soccer at McClatchy. Flynn was the rugby team captain for three years. His mother, Lara, is a legislative committee consultant and graduate of the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle; his father, Owen, is a construction consultant who also graduated from Cornish and coached his son at McClatchy with fellow coaches Whit Poindexter and Brian Charter. Aidan also played rugby for Land Park Motley youth under coaches Matthew Eason and Cal rugby parent and alumnus Rich Boyer with his brother, Hunter, who attends San Francisco State. His sister, Montana, is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara. An undeclared academic major, Flynn may pursue a science career in field research.
A graduate of Granite Bay High School is Beau Hershberger, who played for the Granite Bay Youth Area Club and comes to Cal as a sophomore having spent his freshman year at the University of Nevada, where he was a scholarship football player. Standing at 6-2 and 235 pounds, Beau is slated to play back row for the Bears. At Granite Bay he was also an Academic All-American and a first-team all-state and MaxPreps All-America football player for the Grizzlies when they won the CIF Division I state title in 2012, edging Long Beach Poly, 21-20. He additionally competed for Granite Bay is wrestling and baseball. On the rugby pitch under coach John Kimble, his team won the Northern California championship in 2011. His father, Greg, is a business owner and his mother, Karen, is a homemaker; both graduated from Chico State. His sister, Brooke, is a senior volleyball player at Granite Bay. Hershberger is considering legal studies as a major at the University.
BROAD MIX FROM BAY AREA
Two players make the move to Berkeley having played their youth rugby north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.
Under head coach and former Cal rugby player Dave Cingolani, Felix Le Merle was a rugby starter as a flanker and hooker for three years, two as a member of the Highlanders Rugby Club and one, in 2013-14, for the newly formed North Bay Wildcats, advancing to the National Invitational Tournament all three campaigns. Le Merle, who hails from Tiburon, captained the nascent Wildcats as a senior. An attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps, Felix graduated from Marin Catholic High School, where he also captained his freshman, JV and varsity football teams as a fullback and defensive end, earning all-league defensive recognition as a senior. In the classroom, Le Merle was a member of the Dean’s List and National Honor Society for his GPA above 3.75. His mother, Alison, a board member of several companies, attended Cambridge prior to Harvard Business School; his father, Matthew, was an Oxford undergraduate who played rugby for the London Welsh prior to his MBA at Stanford Business School and his current career as tech-company board member and angel investor. The elder Mr. Le Merle also rowed at Oxford and in the Masters division for the Marin County Rowing Association. Felix’s siblings include brothers Louis, a sophomore on the Cal rugby team, and Max, who attends Trinity College (CT); sister, Tallulah, at Oxford (UK); and youngest brother, Leo, a freshman rugby player for North Bay. An avid musician, Felix is considering geography, political science and developmental studies as academic majors with an eye toward business school.
Schuyler Whiting is a 6-0, 192-pound center/flyhalf who calls his hometown Kentfield, Calif., and his high school alma mater San Francisco’s St. Ignatius Preparatory School, where he was a four-year Honor Roll student. Like Le Merle, Whiting was a member of both the Highlanders and North Bay youth clubs, and a 2013 Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp attendee. He also played football at SI as a starting running back and safety. Extracurricular activities included his editorship of a high-school literary magazine and a seven-year run as a drummer in a band. His mother, Nicole, is a yoga therapist who graduated from UC Santa Cruz; his father, Ken, is an attorney who graduated magna cum laude at Washington before earning a Master’s degree at Stanford and his JD at the University of Chicago. Whiting’s great uncle played football for UCLA and two cousins ran track at the University of Pennsylvania. His grandmother Dee Ann DeAvilla also attended Cal. An undeclared major, Schuyler is considering law and finance as possible professional pursuits.
To the east, De La Salle High School sends two graduates to Cal after the Spartans finished their spring rugby season as runners-up in the Northern California championships. The staff at DLS includes coaches Rob Duncanson and Matt Fahey; assistants Ray Meadows, Mike Sagehorn and Ed Barfels; and operations staff Ed Christiansen and Rick Medeiros.
From Alamo, Calif., comes Brian Joyce, a 5-10, 244-pound prop and high school Honor Student who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps three times. On the gridiron he was a member of the Spartans’ 2012 California Open Division state championship team and the starting center on the 2013 team, earning first-team all-league honors. Joyce was named Most Valuable Forward on the team in 2013 and ’14. His mother, Beth, is a school teacher who graduated from Georgia; his father, is a Notre Dame graduate and the CEO of an information technology company. His brother, Brendan, graduated from Cal in 2012. Brian is an undeclared major.
Also coming from DLS, where he was an Honor Student, is Michael Goodwin, a 5-9, 161-pound scrumhalf from Concord, Calif. A captain his final two years and the MVP of the Spartans rugby team in 2013, Goodwin attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps for two years and also played from 2007-10 on the Lamorinda Youth Rugby Club. His mother, Kelly, is a Cal alumna who works as a kidney transplant coordinator at California Pacific Medical Center; his father, Kenneth, is a bond broker who graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music. Michael’s grandmother Jacqueline Van Bokkelen also graduated from Cal and his great grandfather William Van Bokkelen played basketball at Washington. He has three sisters, including Grace, who graduated from Loyola Marymount. An Eagle Scout and black belt in Tae Kwan Do, Goodwin may pursue a business major at the University.
Under the leadership of former Bears head coach and Cal Athletics Hall of Famer Ned Anderson and fellow Cal rugby alumnus Matt Taylor – both of whose sons also played for the Rugby Bears – Lamorinda has sent two additional players to Berkeley to begin their collegiate campaigns in 2014-15.
The captain of the forwards on Lamorinda’s varsity team the past two seasons was Peter Golesorkhi, a 5-9, 194-pound hooker from Moraga, Calif., who attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer camp in 2013 and graduated from Campolindo High School. On the gridiron for the Cougars, he was a defensive lineman who earned first-team all-league honors as a senior. His mother, Soraya, is a real estate agent who graduated from Tufts; his father, Ramin, is geotechnical engineer who received his Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Tufts before earning a Ph.D. in civil engineering at Cal. Peter’s two brothers, Nicolas and Alex, graduated from Colorado and Utah, respectively. His uncle Samir Giha was a wrestler at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. Currently undeclared, Golesorkhi is interested in possible career pursuits as an entrepreneur or investment banker.
The other Lamorinda veteran among Cal’s new players is the 6-0, 186-pound William Fuller, who played wing on the rugby pitch for three years and scored 11 tries his senior season. Born in Maryland and raised in Orinda, Calif., Fuller is a graduate of Miramonte High School, where he was a four-time Scholar Athlete and two-time winner of the Presidential Service Award for giving over 200 hours of community service. He was a first-team all-league selection as a senior in football, with 59 receptions and 16 TDs as his Matadors gridiron team won the Division II sectional title in 2013, and an all-league track and field selection after winning the high-jump title. His mother, Anne, is a high-school college and career counselor who graduated from Indiana; his father, also William, is an attorney who graduated from Stanford. Fuller also has a grandfather who swam for the Cardinal. A big brother to two younger sisters, Fuller has not declared an academic major.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ON THE SCENE
Conor Lydon played for eight years on the Santa Monica Rugby Club and captained the team in 2013. He ended his pre-college career with the 2014 Southern California championship as a 6-2, 214-pound back-rower and lock, and is slated to play flanker and No. 8 for the Bears. At the 2014 U-18 National Invitationals, his SMRC team earned second-place and Lydon was named Man of the Match in the semifinals. Other accomplishments for the Santa Monica club during Lydon’s career included back-to-back titles at both the California State Games 7s and the Serevi Cup 7s Series. Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, Lydon attended the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camps in 2012 and ’13, and graduated from Loyola High School. Conor’s grandfather Charlie Lydon was an international test rugby player for Ireland and also played at University College Dublin; another grandfather, Dom O’Connell, played provincial rugby for Munster; a great grandfather was also a provincial player at Ulster. His father, Charlie, is a senior vice president at Wells Fargo and an NYU graduate who played provincial rugby for Connacht in Ireland; his mother, Ciara, is a homemaker. Lydon also has a younger sister. Currently undeclared, he is considering business as a possible major at the University.
Santa Monica’s opponents in the 2014 SoCal championship were the San Diego Mustangs, from which John Goenacomes to the Bears as a 5-11, 199-pound fullback and wing. Known as Jake, Goena was born in Chicago and raised in Del Mar, Calif., graduating from Torrey Pines High School, where he also played football as a running back and linebacker, earning team defensive MVP honors and a slot on the 2013 All-Academic team. A 2013 attendee of the Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp, Goena captained the Mustangs rugby team as a senior under a coaching staff that includes Matty Sandoval and former Cal All-American and U.S. International Ramon Samaniego. His father, Steve, is a business owner who graduated from San Diego State; his mother, Chris, is a recruiting professional who graduated from Ohio State. The undeclared Goena, who has three younger siblings, may pursue a business degree at the University with the goal of working toward an MBA.
HONG KONG AND LONDON CALLING
From Shouson, Hong Kong, arrives Hugo D’Auriol, a 6-1, 182-pound fullback/center who graduated from The South Island School and attended Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2013. Hugo played rugby with the Valley Men’s Team, an area club, and competed for his school in track and field and swimming. Holder of an International Baccalaureate Certificate, D’Auriol also played rugby for Hong Kong at the U-20 level. His mother, Claudia, is a fashion consultant who graduated from Bryn Mawr College; his father, Guy, is a founding partner of a private asset management firm. Two siblings include sister Anna at Middlesex University (UK) and a younger brother who plays rugby for the Shawnison Lake School in Hong Kong. His academic major is undeclared.
A 6-2, 245-pound prop and flanker, Alexander de Gentile-Williams was born in London, where he played rugby for The Harrow School under former U.S. international Jesse Coulson, a scrumhalf who played at the 1999 Rugby World Cup under USA head coach Jack Clark. Known as Sacha, de Gentile-Williams was a member of both the English Schools selects and the London Wasps Academy Elite Player Development Group. At Harrow he also captained the golf team. An attendee of Nike Cal Varsity Rugby Summer Camp in 2012, de Gentile-Williams enjoyed extracurricular activities at Harrow that included his school’s a capella group, the practice of cello and double bass, and the role of youth cricket coach. His mother, Jackie, is a school registrar who graduated from Bristol University; his father, Patric, is an investment manager who graduated from Cambridge after playing high-school rugby for the Lycee Francais of London. Two of de Gentile-Williams’ uncles also played rugby for the Beaconsfield RFC senior team in the UK. His two sisters include Anastasia, who attends University College London. Currently undeclared, he could pursue business as an academic major.
The 2014-15 campaign kicks off with the fall 7s schedule, starting October 11 at the West Coast 7s at Cal Poly and culminating November 8-9, when Cal hosts the PAC Sevens Tournament on Witter Rugby Field. In January the Bears transition to spring 15s, ending with the Varsity Cup National Championships before the team finishes the year at the 2015 Collegiate Rugby Championship, where it will compete in the 7s code slated to return to Olympic medal competition at the 2016 Summer Games.
Penn Mutual, United World Sports and NBC Sports Group Announce Title Sponsorship of Collegiate Rugby Championship and Varsity Cup Rugby Championship
Sponsorship driven by sport’s increasing popularity, solidifies Philadelphia as the home of collegiate rugby
Horsham, Pa. – September 15, 2014 – The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, United World Sports and NBC Sports Group have announced a three-year title sponsorship for the Collegiate Rugby Championship, the largest Rugby 7’s (7 players a side) collegiate rugby championship in the United States. The Collegiate Rugby Championship, which takes place at PPL Park in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, will now be called ”The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.” In addition, Penn Mutual has committed to be the title sponsor for The Varsity Cup, the national collegiate championship of the 15-a-side rugby format. The Varsity Cup, which is played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, will now be named “The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.”
Penn Mutual is committed to work with UWS and NBC Sports Group to establish the Collegiate Rugby Championship as an iconic world-class Philadelphia-based sports event, on par with national championships in other major sports in the United States.
According to Jonathan First, President of United World Sports, “This sponsorship establishes rugby, which is now the fastest growing sport in America, as a powerful corporate marketing and branding tool – one with the same cache of soccer, appealing to an American market comprised, in part, of business leaders and decision makers. We congratulate Penn Mutual on their forward-looking decision, and we’re eager to help them connect their brand with our audience of devoted fans, dedicated players and quality institutions from around the country.”
“Our sponsorship is part of a long-term business-building strategy to extend the Penn Mutual brand to consumers, financial professionals, and student athletes,” says Eileen McDonnell, Penn Mutual’s Chairman, President & CEO. “Like rugby, Penn Mutual enjoys a long and esteemed history–167 years of service to our policyholders. And, like rugby, we are more cutting edge than ever, having doubled our market share since the financial crisis of 2008. Rugby provides a clean slate for us to share our optimistic view of how life insurance not only protects, but also allows people to do more in life and leave a lasting legacy. The sponsorship also gives us the opportunity to attract new talent by gaining exposure to the student athletes of major national colleges and universities. All of us at Penn Mutual are excited about the possibilities afforded by The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship and The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.”
Rugby 7s returns to the Olympic Games in 2016, following an 84-year hiatus, where the United States will defend its gold medal from the 1924 Olympics in Paris. The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is part of a nationwide effort to build American rugby talent in preparation for the Olympics. In the past three years, the Collegiate Rugby Championship has produced 15 players who have gone on to play for the U.S. National teams. In the 2014 Collegiate Rugby Championship, 20 of the top colleges and universities competed for the title, including Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan, Navy, Ohio State and reigning national champion, The University of California Golden Bears. Beginning in 2015, a portion of Penn Mutual’s sponsorship investment will be awarded to the winning team, the proceeds of which will be used to build the team’s rugby program on-campus.
For its participation, Penn Mutual will tell its story to millions of Americans through TV exposure on NBC, NBCSN, Universal Sports Network, Comcast SportsNet, in-event branding, online and digital marketing, and through localized and national promotions and events throughout the year.
“We’re thrilled to have Penn Mutual join our partnership with United World Sports in support of the Collegiate Rugby Championship and The Varsity Cup,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports Group. “We believe Penn Mutual’s support will aid in the growth and popularity of these events, and the sport of rugby across the U.S.”
According to McDonnell, “This sponsorship squarely provides Penn Mutual with a smart, effective way of reaching a vital new audience that can benefit from the power of life insurance as well as the career opportunities it offers.”
About The Penn Mutual Life Insurance CompanySince its founding in 1847, Penn Mutual has been driven by its noble purpose to create a world of possibilities. At the heart of this purpose is the belief that purchasing life insurance is the most protective, responsible and rewarding action a person can take, and is central to a sound financial plan. The company is committed to helping individuals, families and small businesses unlock life’s possibilities through life insurance and annuity solutions. This is accomplished through a national network of more than 5,000 financial professionals, who help clients make great things possible. Penn Mutual supports its field representatives with brokerage services through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor and wholly owned subsidiary. Member FINRA/SIPC. Visit Penn Mutual on the Internet at http://www.pennmutual.com.
About United World SportsUnited World Sports (UWS) is the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands including, the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: http://www.unitedworldsports.com
About NBC Sports Group
When the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed in January 2011, the sports assets of the two companies combined to form NBC Sports Group, which serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of a unique array of broadcast television, cable television, radio and digital sports assets, including NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN (NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel, 11 NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital.
NEW YORK – The Varsity Cup announced Thursday that Arizona State University will join its national collegiate rugby championship postseason in the spring of 2015.
“On behalf of the Varsity Cup universities and our commercial partner, United World Sports, I offer a sincere welcome to Arizona State,” said Varsity Cup founder and Brigham Young head coach David Smyth. “The Sun Devils are a rugby program on the rise, with strong support from their administration and local community. They will be another natural fit for the Varsity Cup.”
The addition of the Sun Devils brings to 14 the number of teams in the Varsity Cup, a single-elimination postseason tournament that began in 2013 with eight programs. Four more joined to create a 12-team field in the 2014 edition, and the decision by ASU follows the same move by Arkansas State earlier this summer to join BYU, Cal, Utah, UCLA, Navy, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Texas, Air Force, Central Washington, Clemson and Oklahoma in next spring’s premier postseason for collegiate 15s. Together, the Varsity Cup field represents 31 of the 33 national collegiate champions crowned by USA Rugby and 69 of its final-four teams from the 1980 through 2012 postseasons.
The Sun Devils’ 133 team national championships all-time make ASU one of the most accomplished sporting universities in the United States. Rugby’s reentry as a medal sport at 2016 Summer Olympic Games adds further weight to the move by Arizona State, which has produced 160 Olympians since 1952.
Said Ray Anderson, Director of Athletics at ASU, “We are excited about the opportunity for our rugby team and pleased about Arizona State’s inclusion in the Varsity Cup, where the program will compete among the sport’s elite.”
Rugby was inaugurated at ASU in 1975 and has regularly ranked in the Top 25 in the country under head coach Gary Lane. “We are building for our future and see our inclusion as a necessary aspect of our development,” Lane said. “In recent years, we declined invitations to participate in the USA Rugby postseason and it was always our hope to receive a Varsity Cup place.”
Sun Devils fullback Adam Sandstrom, having just completed a national team trial at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., said, “I am confident that our team will rise to the occasion this season and in the years to come, proving that we are able to compete with the best teams in the country.”
About The Varsity Cup Rugby National Championship
The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate rugby postseason national 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 the most recognized and accomplished university rugby programs in the country vying for the right to be named the collegiate 15s Varsity Cup National Champions.
About United World Sports
United World Sports (UWS) LLC hosts a dynamic line up of emerging sports properties and has quickly become the leader at delivering premier international sports properties to U.S. audiences. UWS’ flagship property is the USA Sevens Rugby Tournament held annually in Las Vegas. This exciting 16-nation, three-day tournament has become the largest attended rugby event in North America with more than 70,000 fans coming to Sam Boyd Stadium. Broadcast live on NBC Sports the tournament serves as the only U.S. stop on a nine-city world tour and reaches more than 350 million television households worldwide. Additional UWS properties include the Las Vegas Invitational, America’s Rugby Seven’s Cup, the College Rugby Championship (CRC), the Varsity Cup and the Pro Soccer Challenge.
For over 15 years the Arkansas State University Rugby Team (A-State Rugby) has experienced considerable success in the college rugby competition, culminating in USA Rugby 7s National Championships in 2012 and 2013 and a USA Rugby D-1A 15’s National Championship appearance against Brigham Young University (2012). The Red Wolves competed admirably in the 49-42 loss. A-State Rugby has also produced multiple Collegiate All-Americans and USA 7s National Team Representatives. A-State Rugby culture centers around preparation and good decision-making on and off the field. Accordingly, participants on the team are encouraged to take advantage of the many resources and opportunities Arkansas State University has to offer.
Led by Head Coach Shaun Potgieter, the coaching staff displays a talent for teaching the game of rugby, sharing their experiences and methods in a healthy and dynamic environment. Enthusiastic and talented, the coaching staff is adamant about keeping the program progressing on a path of excellence. This spring, the Red Wolves have put in an impressive win against Davenport University and a hard-fought effort in a close loss against Life University. Up next, A-State Rugby will host the Clemson University Rugby Club, April 9th , for the first round of the Varsity Cup Competition. Following the conclusion of the Varsity Cup Competition, A-State Rugby is looking forward to participating in the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship where they look to build on last year’s performance.
In front of 10,172 fans, BYU defeated Cal for its second consecutive Varsity Cup title. Leading throughout the contest, BYU defeated Cal 44-33 in at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Paul Lasike opened the scoring for BYU off a line break and missed tackle from Cal. Fullback Josh Whippy popped a pass back inside after beating a Cal defender for a 7-0 lead.
Moments later Andrew Battaglia tied the game for Cal off a pass from Jake Anderson. Battaglia scampered down the sideline and dotted down over BYU winger Jordan Lowry. Jake Anderson tied the game with a successful conversion.
The Bears were dealt a significant blow minutes after the Battaglia score when junior Number 8 Tiaan De Nysschen left the game with a significant shoulder injury.
BYU broke the deadlock when Jonny Linehan threw a miss pass to winger Jordan Lowry for a sprint to the corner. Linehan missed the tough conversion making it 12-7 Cougars
Cal was able to build some continuity following the BYU try but unforced errors and missed opportunities killed the Cal attack. A great kick by Russell Webb picked up by Seamus Kelly started a series of phases in BYU territory. The ball was sent wide and Harry Adolphus offloaded it off but the ball was knocked on right by the goal line.
Minutes later Anderson pushed a penalty wide. Electing to go for points from nearly 50 meters, the fullback had the distance but pushed the kick to the right of the posts yielding possession back to the cougars
BYU earned a penalty at nearly the identical spot to the penalty spot from which Anderson missed his attempt. The Cougars elected to kick for touch and scored off the ensuing lineout.
The Cougars showed tremendous discipline and patience. The forwards did a series of picks gaining small chunks of yardage on the fringes. The BYU pack earned the try at the breakdown muscling over after numerous phases.
Unforced errors killed Cal throughout the first half. A Knock on in its own territory and then a penalty for not rolling away resulted in a penalty goal attempt for Linehan. The bears were saved for the moment when the kick attempt hit the upright and bounced back in to Cal hands.
Cal overthrew a lineout and after a Johnny Linehan kick ahead, the Bears back three attempted to link but a poor pass bounced right into the arms of a BYU forward. The Bears were not as fortunate this time around as the ball made its way wide for a Chris Wernli try.
Cal’s sloppy play in the first half limited their offensive chances. However, there competitiveness at the breakdown held the BYU offense in check.
“Our forwards played very well in the first half. But we didn’t hold our nerve very well in the backs,” said Cal coach Jack Clark.
Despite 10 turnovers in the first half, Cal was able to capitalize on a BYU error for a score right before halftime. BYU elected to run from their own goal line and knocked the ball on leading to the Cal score right at half time. On his first touch after entering the game as a substitute, Miles Honens scored a converted try.
At the break BYU led Cal 22-14.
At the start of the second stanza, Russell Webb made a one handed offload leading to Battaglia’s second try in the corner. Anderson missed the conversion making it 22-19 in favor of BYU.
Just when Cal looked to be taking back momentum, the ball scooted out of a ruck and scrumhalf Luke Mocke pounced on the ball, beat a man and scored under the posts. With a Linehan conversion BYU upped its lead to 29-19
Cal turnovers continued in the second half and resulted in another BYU score. Kyle Sumsion ripped the ball away right on the Cal goal line and Johnny Linehan found Josh Whippy on a crash ball for a try. With the conversion, BYU led 36-19.
After a great display of tackling from BYU, Rusell Webb took a one handed offload from Alec Gletzer for a try under the posts. With twelve minutes to play BYU led 36-26.
Cal controlled a lot of the possession in the second half but turnovers stymied the Bears attack. Cal had several line breaks but knocks-on killed any attacking chances in the final minutes.
Josh Whippy put the icing on the cake with his second try of the afternoon. Cal was able to put up a consolation try as time expired but ended up falling short 43-33.
BYU claimed its second consecutive Varsity Cup title with BYU’s Kyle Sumsion being awarded the Man of the Match Award.
“Credit cal they really made us work for it. To beat cal you have got to be physical. Today we were able to do that. All in all our boys did what we had to do win the title,” said BYU coach David Smyth.
They’re the national collegiate champions on merit. Beyond BYU, I’m proud of the Varsity Cup universities which comprised this postseason. It has been a great tournament and we all salute the Cougars as our champion,” Cal Coach Jack Clark added.
Starting with 12 teams and 11 matches later, BYU has earned the right to be called the Varsity Cup champions.
BYU defeated Cal 43 – 33 in front of a home crowd of 10,172 at Rio Tinto Stadium to win the 2014 Varsity Cup National Rugby Collegiate Rugby Championship.
BYU got off to an early start with Paul Lasike scoring a try to put BYU up 7-0. Cal responded quickly with Andrew Battaglia scoring at the eight minute mark. BYU responded with Wing Jordan Lowry scoring to put BYU up 12 – 7 after a missed conversion by Linehan.
Cal tried to respond but came up short after few uncharacteristic errors that gave BYU the chance to open up their lead after Joe Pikula scored in the corner at the thirty minute mark.
Cal fought back hard and quickly responded with a try of their own from Miles Honens to make it 22-12 at the half.
Cal came out at the half with a try from Battaglia making it 22-19. BYU responded quickly with two tries making it 36-19.
After a few additional tries, the final match concluded with a score of 43 – 33, with BYU winning the Varsity Cup Collegiate Rugby National Championship.
Its déjà vu in the Varsity Cup as Cal and BYU will once again play for the Varsity Cup title.
Coming into the tournament as the one and two seeds respectively, BYU and Cal have flexed their muscles with convincing wins. Cal defeated a talented UCLA side for the third time this season and easily dispatched an undefeated Central Washington squad. BYU dominated Dartmouth and blanked Navy on its way to the Varsity Cup final.
BYU and Cal are no strangers to one another. In their histories, the Golden Bears and Cougars have met 11 times, ten of those in the postseason. They have met seven times for a national championship with the Bears winning five of those contests.
The most recent of those encounters was the 2013 Varsity Cup final. Awarded the 2013 Rugbymag Collegiate Game of the Year, the 2013 Varsity Cup championship featured a back and forth affair.
BYU jumped out to an early 16-3 lead after a try and four penalties from Johnny Linehan.
Cal stormed back with a try from Russell Webb off a penalty but Linehan made it a two score game once again with his fifth penalty kick of the day. Cal’s O’beirne responded with a try but a TJ Allred try made it a 24-17 game.
Seamus Kelly tied the game at 24 with a try but a drop goal at the death from flyhalf Johnny Linehan propelled BYU to the first ever Varsity Cup title.
California’s latest victory over the cougars came in 2011 by the score of 21-14.
Having the game in their backyard gives the Cougars a slight advantage, as they will be playing in front of a home crowd. However, Cal traveled to Provo for the final last year and played the game on BYU’s home field.
Cal coach Jack Clark understands the quality of Cal’s opponent, giving them plenty of praise after seeing some of the Cougars match with Navy.
Because of the time-zone difference, I did take a peek at them earlier before our game started,” Jack Clark said. “They were unbelievable. They’re such a powerful team with a lot of really strong, mature guys. It’s a tall task for us.”
Cal standout Seamus Kelly added similar sentiments but is excited for the challenge.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” I think they’re the best team in the country right now, a real lethal group of athletes. You want to go through the toughest opponent possible to be crowned champion.”
BYU has no lack of respect for Cal either.
“We are impressed with Cal’s setup. They are an impressive team filled with great athletes. It will be a great task ahead of us,” said BYU coach David Smyth.
This will sure to be a tight and thrilling contest. Four of their seven championship title meetings have been decided by a converted try or less, and three of those were by only three points.
Buy tickets at varsitycup.us or tune into NBC Sports Network at 4PM Eastern Time to watch the game live.