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BYU Takes Aim at National Title

19 May 2011 Brett Richins 19 Comments

BYU All-American Mikey Su'a (DSB photo - Jared Thorkelson)

BYU Rugby plays perhaps its biggest game in program history this Saturday.

The Cougars (15-0) face the 25-time national champion Cal Bears (26-0) in the first ever College Premier Division rugby national championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. MT.

The College Premier Division is newly created this year and consists of the upper-echelon of college programs in the nation.

Saturday’s game marks the sixth consecutive season that BYU and Cal, the country’s two most powerful college rugby programs, have faced each other in the national title game. The Cougars defeated the Bears to win the 2009 national championship, but are just 1-7 all-time against Cal.

This year’s title game is the first to be held in the state of Utah, a hotbed of rugby in the United States.

A large, pro-BYU crowd is expected to fill Rio Tinto on Saturday night. For the Cougars, winning a national championship in front of thousands of their fans would be the pinnacle of a long journey.

For many years the Cougars fielded one of the best college rugby teams in the land, but could not compete for a national title because the championship game was traditionally held on Sunday.

However, in recent years the game has been switched to Saturdays, and BYU has been a fixture in the championship game ever since — usually pummeling teams on their way to an annual, end-of-season clash with Cal.

This season, the undefeated Cougars have steamrolled virtually every opponent they have faced, outscoring them during the regular season by a combined 973 to 80. That’s an average of 74.8 points per game, to just 6.2 per game for their opponents.

During conference play BYU has been beyond dominant, dispatching Colorado 94-5, defeating Air Force 95-8, shutting out Colorado State 99-0, crushing Arizona State 80-0 and demolishing Wyoming 123-3.

In the CPD quarterfinal match, the Cougars pounded Navy 64-12, before getting a stiffer 36-15 test from Arkansas State in the semis last week on a rain-soaked field in Glendale, CO.

Cal meanwhile defeated Life University 43-10 in quarters, then thrashed Utah 62-14 for a berth in the title match.

The game will be streamed live on ESPN3, then broadcast tape-delayed on ESPNU on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. MT. Tickets are available through Rio Tinto Stadium.

BYU head coach David Smyth says that his team will be ready to face a Cal team that has very few weakness…

All-American prop Mikey Su’a (5-11, 295 Jr.) says that the Cougars realize they take a huge step up in competition on Saturday…

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  • Nate in Miami said:

    I’ll have to watch on ESPN3, and learn the rules of rugby before then, so I can fully enjoy it. Go Cougars!!!

  • erik said:

    Just want to clarify. The game is being rebroadcast on ESPNU not ESPN on Sunday morning.

  • Rebecker said:

    Go Cougars!

  • YouthRugby said:

    GO TO THE GAME! Tickets are only $12 in advance. This is the first time the collegiate national championship has been held here. The game will be epic and the intensity and hitting will be off the charts!

  • Brett Richins said:

    I did not mention it in the article, but the high school national championship and the U19 national title game will be played prior to the BYU game. Both earlier games feature teams from the famed Highland Rugby program. The U19 game features Highland vs. United (Utah County). You get in to all of the games for the $12 admission.

  • Brett Richins said:


    Thanks, yes the game is on ESPNU, sorry for the typo.

  • Spencer said:

    Should be a sweet game. Byu looked a little off versus asu at times so hopefully they bring their a game and then some versus cal. I watched the cal Utah game and wow we definitely are going to have out hands full. They threaten to take it to the house on every play. Cross my fingers and hope for a win. Go byu and go highland!

  • JP said:

    Brett, are we going to see any of these players on the football field next year?

  • Seasider said:

    Should be a good game. Cal is favored to win but BYU will play hard to to try to win in front of a home crowd. The sad thing is BYU could easily be as dominant or even more dominant than Cal. With the church’s connections in countries like New Zealand, Australia and other pacific island nations, there are high quality young players who would jump at a chance to go to BYU. Heck, they could probably find some of them just by looking at the student body of BYU-Hawaii.

  • BWest52 said:

    Great article, Brett. How often do BYU fans get a chance to whitness a National Championship? It’s time for Cougar Nation to mobilize and show a national TV audience, not to mention Cal and the rest of the PAC 12 (I just vomited) just how deep Cougar Pride runs.

    We need to sell this thing out!

    Rugby is an amazing sport to watch in person. You don’t need to understand every facet of the game to enjoy it. And i can promise that the team will bring their very best. It’ll be a barnburner for the ages that we should win. So bring the kids and let’s pack that stadium with the energy and noise of 20,000 cougar fans as we watch our guys hoist the trophy.

    It’ll also scratch that hard hitting football itch that we won’t be able to scratch for a few months at Ole Miss.

  • WaybackCougar said:

    When I was eleven my family lived in England and I attended a British school along with four other American boys my age. Our headmaster, D. Hopkin Thomas, was a former rugby player who took it upon himself to convince us that his beloved sport was superior to American football in every way.

    He never failed to remind us that there are no sissy helmets or protective gear. It’s _real_ man’s game. And to drive the point home, one day he even let us miss school and took us on an outing to see Oxford play Cambridge.

    I remember the crowd was wild but the game itself was simply over my head. (Come to think of it, at the time I probably didn’t get American football all that well, either).

    I’ll have to tune in on Saturday and see if I can get a flavor for what what he saw in the game. It’ll be hard pressed to make any inroads into my love of football, but, hey, this time of year it doesn’t have to compete. Go Cougars!!

  • BWest52 said:

    To WayBack Cougar –

    There’s plenty of room in the world for both football and rugby. Check it out. You’ll love it.

  • BYU DUDE said:

    This article is interesting,

    This Guy is Based in Chicago. You have to Look down the Page a bit.


  • Dwight Cornell said:

    I will be going to the game with my son who is 9, and we are both looking forward to watching the two best teams in all of College Rugby, BYU being number one of course.
    GO COUGARS!!!!


  • Ralph J said:

    Man…that photo of Su’a running with teh ball and the skinny dude on the other team moving in, Su’a looks like the Incredible Hulk. At 5’11” 295 lbs of solid muscle, he’d be an awesome pile mover as a nose tackle. Too bad we can’t add to our depth and get some of these guys to come out for football.

  • Greg said:

    A number of guys have been targeted by the football team, Mikey Su’a included. He never could pass the NCAA clearinghouse for various reasons, but Bronco was after him twice within the last three years. They also recruited a kiwi kid named Paul Lasike, a running back type, that is just getting back from his mission now. Who knows where that will go next year. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him do both in the years to come. OThers have been looked at as well.

    Plus you have a number of former football guys who come out for rugby after their scholarship football days are done and they don’t see the NFL on the horizon–i.e., Zeke Mendenhall, Inoke Funaki, etc.

  • Jared said:

    Was a great game – I’m new to rugby and really enjoyed this and last week’s games. Bummer that they lost today.

  • WaybackCougar said:

    Thanks for doing this feature and encouraging us to watch. I did tune in online and enjoyed it a lot. Seemed like it’s one we should have won but at least we played them very close.

  • Seasider said:

    Good effort tonight boys. Cal is a good team but they totally got away with a forward pass on their last try. But what’s done is done. It’s good to see Rugby getting more exposure in this country.

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