BYU and Cal Clash for Rugby National Title
Defending national champion BYU seeks its second-consecutive national club rugby championship when the Cougars host arch-nemesis Cal in the inaugural Varsity Cup National Collegiate Rugby Championship on Saturday afternoon.
The clash of national rugby powerhouses marks the seventh time in the last eight years that the two teams have met for the title, and will be the Cougars’ eighth straight championship game appearance.
BYU defeated Arkansas State 49-42 last year to claim the 2012 crown.
California has won six of the seven previous meetings, including a 21-14 victory in the championship game in 2011 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The Cougars knocked off the Bears in 2009 by the score of 25-22 for the program’s first national championship.
BYU captain Ryan Roundy says this Saturday’s battle at South Field is something he has been looking forward to his entire career at BYU.
“This is one of those days you really look forward to,” Roundy said, “To have Cal on your home pitch here at South Field and to be playing for a National Championship on top of that. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
California rolled over Notre Dame (77-0) and Navy (74-6) to advanced to the championship game. The Bears won the Pacific Athletic Conference title with a 5-0 record and will enter the the match up against BYU with a perfect 21-0 mark.
With 26 National Championship trophies residing in Berkeley, BYU head coach David Smyth knows it will take more than home field advantage to beat Cal and take home his own program’s third title.
“Cal is Cal,” said Smyth, “great players focused on one thing and that’s beating you. No matter when or where you play them you can expect a strong and well-disciplined team that goes for all 80 minutes. They require your maximum focus and effort as a team if you’re to stand a chance at beating them.”
On their side of the bracket, the Cougars defeated UCLA (69-8) and Central Washington (53-20) to advance to the Varsity Cup final. BYU is 11-2 overall, with the two losses coming to men’s Elite Cup teams Old Puget Sound and New York Athletic Club.
“We might not have won those games [against NYAC and OPSB],” Smyth said, “But they did what they were supposed to do, and that was to help make us a better team.”
Despite the two losses to Elite Cup sides, BYU is undefeated at South Field against collegiate opponents this year, and hasn’t lost to a college program at home since 2006.
“We love playing at South Field,” senior prop Ray Forrester said, “We have some of the best fans in the country. They expect to see wins at South Field and we hope to live up to that expectation on Saturday.”
Saturday’s championship game is set for 1 pm MT and will be the first national championship game ever played at South Field. It will also be Cal’s first trip to Provo since 1983.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.BYUTickets.com. Fans are advised to purchase tickets early, as seating will be limited. The game will also be streamed live at KSL.com, DesNews.com and via the Varsity Cup’s YouTube Channel.
For more information on the Varsity Cup go to www.VarsityCup.US.
BYU Flanker Ryan Roundy talks about what he sees as the key to defeating Cal on Saturday…
BYU head coach David Smyth talks about having center Paul Lasike back on the pitch for the Cougars. Lasike missed much of the regular season due to his participation in spring football practice…
Paul Lasike appeared on TrueBlue Monday night and talked about facing Cal for the Varsity Cup Championship and playing running back for Bronco Mendenhall’s team…
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