Provo, UT—The much-anticipated opening rounds of the Varsity Cup are set to kick off this weekend as all eight teams will play for the right to claim the Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship.
With 31 of the last 33 National Collegiate Championships having been won by one of the Varsity Cup teams, it’s clear that the stakes are high for all eight universities.
“It doesn’t get any better than single-elimination national championship rugby,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark.
In Annapolis the Naval Academy will host half of the opening weekend Varsity Cup action at the Eastern Super-Regional with two matches being played at the Navy-Marines Corp Memorial Stadium April 20th.
The opening match sees perennial national champions the University of California taking on the University of Notre Dame at 1.30pm ET.
The Bears and Irish will renew a history that extends deep into their pasts. When Notre Dame came to California Memorial Stadium on April 8, 1967, for a match covered extensively by Sports Illustrated as the national championship, the Bears bested the Fighting Irish, 37-3.
“The University of Notre Dame is thrilled to be playing Cal this weekend to rekindle this great rivalry at the Varsity Cup,” said Irish head coach Sean O’Leary. “It’s a great opportunity to be tested against the best.”
The other Eastern Super-Regional quarterfinal sees the hosts Navy squaring off with Dartmouth at 3.30pm ET.
Both the Big Green and the Midshipmen are coming off undefeated conference championship seasons—the Ivy League and the Atlantic Coast Rugby Conference, respectively.
And Navy’s head coach Mike Flanagan knows the magnitude of his team’s clash with Dartmouth and their hosting the Eastern Super-Regional in Annapolis.
“To bring to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this level of rugby competition is terrific,” Flanagan said, “Cal, Notre Dame and Dartmouth are all outstanding collegiate programs. These matches promise to showcase American Collegiate rugby in a way that few events in the past have.”
All games at the Varsity Cup Eastern Super-Regional can be viewed online with a subscription at NavySports.com.
Tickets for the Eastern Super-Regional are $10 for adults, $5 for youth 18 and under and can be bought at the gate.
The Varsity Cup National Championship action continues on the same day on the West Coast with UCLA hosting the Western Super-Regional.
The opening match sees three-time National Collegiate Champion the Air Force Academy will square off with Central Washington University at 2pm PT.
The Zoomies from the AFA own an 8-1 record and recently bested a strong Texas A&M team in College Station 38-21.
The Wildcats meanwhile come into their match with Air Force owning a 9-1 record and some of America’s top collegiate talent in the form of No. 8 Aladdin Schirmer and center Tanner Barnes who played on the USA U20’s 2012 Junior World Trophy Championship team.
Air Force head coach Joe Maulbauer is looking forward to the challenge of playing in the Varsity Cup and facing off with the Wildcats.
“The Air Force Academy is very excited about playing in the Varsity Cup,” Muehlbauer said, “We are committed to playing at the highest level possible and that’s what the Varsity Cup offers us. Central Washington is a very good team and we know we will have our work cut out for us. We are up for the challenge and look forward to it.”
Closing out the action at the Western Super-Regional will be the UCLA Bruins taking on two-time National Collegiate Champion Brigham Young University at 4pm PT.
The Bruins posted a 9-2 record this season with only two losses to PAC champion California and a previous regular season loss to BYU earlier this year in January. UCLA captured a number of collegiate rugby scalps by beating the likes of Utah, Arizona and Arizona State on their way to a runner-up finish to Cal in the PAC.
The Cougars meanwhile remain undefeated in collegiate rugby play this season and know a rematch with the Bruins won’t be easy, says BYU head coach David Smyth.
“We’re very much looking forward to heading back to Los Angeles,” Smyth said, “The Bruins are a very different team from when we played them earlier this year. Our goal is no different from any of the other seven teams in the Varsity Cup, but having a chance at winning a National Championship only comes if we get past UCLA and that’s not going to be an easy task this time around.”
Both Western Super-Regional matches are set to be broadcast on the Varsity Cup YouTube Channel.
Tickets for the Western Super-Regional can be purchased online via TicketMaster and at the gate for $15 for general admission and $30 VIP admission.
The winners of each Super-Regional match are set to face each other in the Varsity Cup semifinals on April 27th. The higher seeded team will earn the right to host their respective semifinal on their university’s campus.
Both semifinal venues and broadcast details will be released following the results of all Super-Regional matches.
The Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Champion will be crowned on May 4th at BYU’s South Field Stadium. Kick off for the championship game is set for 1pm PT.
Advance tickets for the Varsity Cup National Championship game can be bought at BYUTickets.com.
For more information on the Varsity Cup including ticket and broadcast details go to VarsityCup.US.