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BYU Rugby looks to defend Varsity Cup title following Utah scrimmage

BYU rugby started off its 2016 season with a scrimmage against Utah on Saturday, January 16, at Snow Canyon High School in St. George, UT.

“Hats off to our team today in our scrimmage against Utah,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s 82-17 win over the Utes. “All of our players fought hard. It was great to try out different set pieces as we start the 2016 season.”

The Cougars look to defend their Varsity Cup title following an undefeated 2015 season that ended in the Cougars gaining their fourth consecutive national championship and fifth overall.

BYU’s forward pack led the way with tough play thanks to several returning players including sophomore hook Alex Vorster and junior prop Zane Mendenhall.

“We have a very experienced forward pack so we can expect to see smarter rugby,” said BYU rugby assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti who coaches the forwards. “We have to get more physical, but I also want to see a bit more finesse and flow.”

As the forwards continue to improve, the back line led by senior scrumhalf and team captain Luke Mocke look to capitalize on opportunities as the Cougars progress towards regular season play.

“I’m excited for this season because of the amount of potential we have based on the production we saw from different teammates,” said Mocke of BYU’s multiple offensive threats. “I know we’ll continue to have success thanks to our great coaching.”

BYU will go on the road again next week to play in the Red Rock Invitational Tournament in Mesquite, NV from January 22-23, 2016.

 

 

Loving what you do and doing what you love: Getting to know Seki Kofe

BYU senior center Seki Kofe runs the ball against UVU on March 25, 2015. BYU won 109-0 at BYU's South Field. Photo by Andrea Wride
BYU senior center Seki Kofe runs the ball against UVU on March 25, 2015. BYU won 109-0 at BYU's South Field. Photo by Andrea Wride

At 6’ 1’’ and 235 lbs., senior center Seki Kofe fits the part of a tough rugby player, but when he greets you with his wide grin it is easy to tell there is more to him than meets the eye.

“I still get nervous for the games,” Kofe laughs in his easygoing way. “It’s intense without pads.”

Kofe has been a key fixture of BYU’s rugby team since his freshman year. The celebrated athlete has won numerous awards and has been instrumental in the team’s back-to-back national championship victories. However, although Kofe has had great success at BYU, it was not always his plan to attend the university.

“My family has always played rugby,” Kofe said. “Originally I was going to play at Arizona State University because I knew the coach, but after my mission to Spain I decided I wanted to go to BYU.”

Although Kofe’s time at BYU has helped him excel academically, spiritually and physically, it has required dedication. His day typically begins before the sun rises and includes physical training, class (he is close to completing his degree in construction management), work and rugby practice. He is home long after the sun has set and works on homework until midnight. Kofe also balances being a husband and his calling as young men’s president in his ward.

RIO TINTO STADIUM TO HOST 2015 PENN MUTUAL VARSITY CUP NATIONAL RUGBY COLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIP ON MAY 2

Salt Lake City, UT - The 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Rugby Collegiate Championship will take place at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, May 2. The Championship is slated for 2:00 p.m. MT and features the winners of the Varsity Cup Semifinals taking place this Saturday. The championship match will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.

Media looking to cover the event can apply for a media credential using the following link. The application deadline is Tuesday, April 28.

Utah’s own Brigham Young University advanced to the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinal last weekend, defeating UCLA 45-16, continuing their perfect 12-0 season. The Cougars remain the only college from Utah in the tournament after University of Utah was eliminated for the second consecutive year by Central Washington in a narrow 18-7 loss on April 11.  BYU is next scheduled take on CWU this Saturday, April 18 at 1:00 p.m. MT at South Field in Provo. The match marks the 50th Anniversary of BYU Rugby and will include a flag raising ceremony recognizing the 2014 Championship team.

In the other semi-final pairing, Navy challenges California on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. MT at Witter Rugby Field at University of California Berkeley. Navy got by Clemson 24-23 last weekend while Cal handled Texas 100-7.

The winners from each of Saturday’s semifinal rounds will face off in the 2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 2 at 2:00 p.m. MT. An updated Varsity Cup bracket can be found here.

2015 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship Final returns to Rio Tinto Stadium

​  BYU rugby team captain Kyle Sumsion is lifted by his teammates after winning the 2014 Varsity Cup National Championship. Photo by Andrea Wride ​
BYU rugby team captain Kyle Sumsion is lifted by his teammates after winning the 2014 Varsity Cup National Championship. Photo by Andrea Wride

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.

BYU Rugby Student Athletes Excel On and Off the Pitch

Sterling Paulson (left) and Josef Jolissaint (right) excel in the classroom and are pillars of success for the National Champion BYU Rugby program.
Sterling Paulson (left) and Josef Jolissaint (right) excel in the classroom and are pillars of success for the National Champion BYU Rugby program.

Provo, UT—The BYU Rugby program is best known for its status as the winner of four national championships since 2009, including the last three consecutively.

What is less known to the general public, but perhaps equally as impressive is the fact that the team has many student-athletes whose talents extend beyond the field.

The Fall Semester is soon to finish before the Christmas holiday and all BYU students are in the middle of completing their academic studies with hours of rigorous written and oral final examinations.

BYU Rugby’s student athletes are not immune to these academic rigors and on the sum excel in the classroom just as they do on the rugby pitch with a team average academic GPA of 3.45.

Considering that 2014 incoming BYU freshman averaged a 3.85 and an ACT score of 28 in high school the title of being a “student-athlete” isn’t bandied about lightly by the BYU Rugby coaching staff.

BYU Rugby: A look back at the 2014 season and the state of program

BYU fullback Josh Whippy scored two tries to help his side beat the California Golden Bears in front of 10,000 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium this past Saturday for the Varsity Cup National Championship. United World Sports Photo.
BYU fullback Josh Whippy scored two tries to help his side beat the California Golden Bears in front of 10,000 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium this past Saturday for the Varsity Cup National Championship. United World Sports Photo.

Provo, UT—With the dust still settling from the Cougars resounding 43-33 victory over the California Golden Bears BYU head coach David Smyth, his staff and captain Kyle Sumsion took time to review the 2014 season which culminated in BYU winning the Varsity Cup National Championship for the second year in a row over the University of California—Berkeley.

By running in seven tries against the vaunted California rugby program and in front of over 10,000 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium the Cougars put an exclamation point on a season that had high expectations from the outset according BYU’s head coach David Smyth.

“The season was a huge success,” said Smyth, “Our main priority was obviously to defend our championship and we did that. I couldn’t be more proud of the work our players put into this season in order to help us win the Varsity Cup again. We have a lot of respect for the California rugby program and are fortunate to have come out champions in this meeting between our two teams.”

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