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California bests BYU in 2016 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Final 40-29 at South Field on May 7, 2016

Provo, UT- The physicality and persistence of the California Golden Bears proved to be too much for the Brigham Young University Cougars in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. With a late scoring run in second half, California finished with a 40-29 win in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Final on Saturday, May 7, at South Field.

"Cal was the better team all-around today," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of the Golden Bears winning the 2016 championship. "They were more physical in the breakdown. They were very good in the lineouts. In fairness to our boys, we did have our moments in today's match."

The Cougars opened up the championship game against the Bears by kicking off. BYU struggled in the lineouts which created opportunities for California to score. After several phases by both teams, the Bears scored the first try of the day at the 13-minute mark. Despite a missed conversion, the Bears gained a 5-0 lead over the Cougars. 

Refusing to be held scoreless, BYU responded with a try by Zach Webber in the 29th minute. Calvin Whiting's conversion was good giving the Cougars a 7-5 lead. Five minutes later, BYU scored again with a try from BYU captain Ara Elkington. Whiting nailed his second conversion of the day putting the Cougars up 14-5. 

California answered back with its second try of the match closing the scoring gap to 14-12 with BYU still in the lead. However, neither team would score again in the first half.

Four minutes into the second half, BYU's Ryan Blaser found the tryline earning the Cougars another five points. Whiting's conversion was good increasing BYU's lead to 21-12. Taking advantage of a California penalty, Whiting completed a penalty kick changing the score to 24-12.

No. 1 BYU rugby seeks to complete 2016 season with Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Final win over California on May 7, 2016

Provo, UT- With four national championships in a row and five overall, the No. 1 Brigham Young University rugby team (22-0) seek to complete another perfect season with a Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final victory over the California Golden Bears on Saturday, May 7, at BYU's South Field.

"Our team has continued to play well and stay focused this season," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of his team's win streak since February 2014. "We've been able to see many players step up and perform on game day. Our forward pack has been reliable and our backs have come through each game. We'll need to keep it up this Saturday against Cal. They are always ready to play."

California has proven to be a formidable rival for the BYU Cougars under the leadership of head coach Jack Clark who took over in 1984. The Golden Bears have a history of dominance in the world of collegiate rugby with 12 consecutive national title wins from 1991-2002 and grand total of 26 national championships overall. Like the Cougars, the Bears have produced many All-Americans as well as members of the USA Eagles such as Seamus Kelly. Last year's Varsity Cup Final was a thriller as the Cougars finished on top with a 30-27 win at Rio Tinto Stadium. 

"Cal has a history of playing great rugby," said BYU senior scrumhalf Luke Mocke. "We can't take a break. We have to stay focused all 80-minutes and stick to what the coaches have worked with us on. Their coaching has paid off as shown by our team's ability to score and starve our opponents of the ball."

The Cougars have proved to be an offensive juggernaut throughout the 2016 Varsity Cup playoffs so far outscoring opponents 256-43 with a scoring average of 85.3 points per game. BYU's depth has shown on the rugby pitch as multiple Cougars have added tries to the scoreboard with points their forward pack. 

BYU heads to play Dartmouth for second round of Penn Mutual Varsity Cup

Following its 113-8 win over Arizona State University in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup playoffs, the no. 1 Brigham Young University rugby team (20-0) will head east to play Dartmouth for the second round on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

"We know Dartmouth is working hard in preparation for this weekend's game," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. "They'll be ready to play. We have to stay focused against Dartmouth and stick to our game plan."

Dartmouth, who defeated Penn State 30-25 in the first round, is known for its rich rugby history that can be traced back to the late 1800's. A dominant force in Ivy League rugby play, Dartmouth has produced several standouts and tours internationally.

"They're experienced as a program and have had the chance to see different styles of play," said BYU rugby team captain Luke Mocke. "I know that sticking to the game plan our coaches have created will be the difference maker in the game. We've seen it work this entire season."

The defending Varsity Cup national champions, BYU completed its second consecutive undefeated regular season and has not lost a match since February 2014. Like Mocke pointed out, the team's game plan has paid off with convincing wins over strong teams like St. Mary's and Central Washington. The Cougars are a tough team to defend due their multiple scoring options.

"Our team does a great job of passing well and communicating which has allowed different players of different positions to score," said junior lock Matt Jensen who has found the tryline many times during the 2016 regular season. "It doesn't matter if they're a back or a forward, all of my teammates have the ability to put points on the scoreboard."

About the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup:

The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason championship.

BYU (19-0) opens Varsity Cup playoffs against ASU in Arizona on Saturday, April 9

The no. 1 Brigham Young University rugby team (19-0) will travel to play the Arizona State Sun Devils for the first round of the Varsity Cup playoffs in Mesa Saturday, April 9, 7 p.m. BYU's regular season accomplishments are the result of well-coached players who have executed on the pitch.

"Many players stepped up to the challenge this season and we will need them to do it again against ASU," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU's undefeated record. "We were able to develop more players this year and those who received those opportunities played well."

A few of the players mentioned by Smyth who played well this season include Matt Jensen, Jackson Kaka, Calvin Whiting, Kingston Matua and Kevin Schofield. Jensen, a junior lock who has found the tryline several times during the regular season, credits much of the team's success to consistent play and effective coaching.

"I've been a creature of opportunity," Jensen said of being able to make plays on the rugby pitch. "Most of my tries have been set up by the team. The whole team across the board has been solid. They're consistent. No one is selfish as we've been spreading the ball out."

BYU's expectations to play well and win the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup is due in part to BYU's five national championships with four of those championships being consecutive wins. While the Cougars have not lost a game since February 2014, they do not appear to be letting up. The team's ability to stay focused and play hard each game has been an accomplishment on its own.

"This year, as a team, we have worked on sticking to what we worked on in practice," said no. 8 Joe Pikula. "We've focused on executing what we worked on in practice. We've performed well against top competition like St. Mary's and Central Washington. I think we've been able to outperform our own expectations."

BYU defeats Utah 49-12 for Wasatch Cup on Friday, April 1

Provo, UT- The undefeated Brigham Young University rugby team (19-0) defended the Wasatch Cup once again with a 49-12 victory over University of Utah at South Field on Friday, April 1, 2016.

"Hats off to Utah in working to keep the same intensity the full game," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU's last regular season home game. "We were able to execute in our set pieces and played hard to beat Utah. We got on the board first and that set the tone for the win."

Within the first three minutes of the game, BYU prop Ricky Tuihalangingie broke through Utah's line for the first try of the night. Sophomore Calvin Whiting's completed conversion gave the Cougars a fast 7-0 lead over the Utes.

At the 16th minute, Whiting scored his first try of the night and added another conversion giving BYU a 14-0 lead. Five minutes later, the Cougars took advantage of stolen lineout leading to a try from sophomore winger Kevin Schofield. Whiting nailed his third conversion of the night putting the Cougars up 21-0.

Utah had its first chance to put points on the board with a penalty kick not long after Schofield's try but missed.

At the 32nd minute mark, BYU took advantage of Utah's thinning backline resulting in a try from fullback Ryan Blaser. Whiting added another two points putting the Cougars up 28-0.

Determined not to be held scoreless going into half-time, Utah's hooker scored at try at the 39-minute mark. Utah-transfer Josh Webber missed the conversion ending the first half with the Cougars up 28-5.

"We knew we had to keep attacking," said team captain and junior flyhalf Jared Whippy of BYU's 23-point lead going into half-time. "We did what the coaches taught us and remembered what we worked on in practice. Doing so led to other opportunities to score."

Wasatch Cup: Rival University of Utah to play BYU at South Field on Friday, April 1

Provo, UT- Friday's game is no joke. The Brigham Young University rugby team will host in-state rival University of Utah in a battle for the Wasatch Cup at BYU's South Field on April 1, 2016.

"Utah always plays hard," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of the Utes. "We'll need to stay focused and stick to our game plan as we have all season. Ball control will be key against the Utes. We'll need to starve them of the ball and keep attacking all 80-minutes."

BYU's most recent victory was a 71-0 win over the San Diego State Aztecs at South Field on March 29, 2016. Multiple Cougars found the tryline as BYU continued its win streak including senior wing Joshua Anderson who added four tries. BYU worked hard offensively and was able to take advantage of San Diego State's defensive lapses. The Cougars plan to continue their momentum against University of Utah.

"We're always excited to play our rival," said team captain and senior scrumhalf Luke Mocke of the Wasatch Cup. "Utah always brings it each time we play them. We're ready for the challenge."

In last year's Wasatch Cup, BYU defeated the Utes at University of Utah's home pitch 76-31. Several Cougars scored tries in the 2015 Wasatch Cup in a display of BYU's versatility.

Kick off is set for 7:00 p.m. MDT at South Field on Friday, April 1, 2016. Tickets are available online at this link. The game will be live-streamed from BYU's YouTube channel.

BYU improves to 18-0 for the 2016 with 71-0 win over SDSU at South Field on March 29, 2016

Provo, UT- The no. 1 Brigham Young University rugby team (18-0) shut out the San Diego State Aztecs at BYU’s South Field despite colder weather conditions on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.

“It was great to be back at home and finish with a win over San Diego State,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s return to South Field following two away games. “We were able to see what our boys could do in different situations and how they reacted as a team.  Hats off to San Diego State for making the trip.”

One of the position switches by BYU that happened in the game was switching sophomore Calvin Whiting to fly half and Ricky Tuihalagingie to center. Whiting has played at center much of the season and Tuihalagingie has started at prop.

The evening's rotation paid off as BYU found the scoreboard quickly thanks to tries from winger Joshua Anderson who capitalized on assists from fullback Joshua Whippy. Anderson put ten points on the board before ten minutes had passed in the match.

Then, at the 11th minute, Anderson completed a hat trick thanks to an assist from Tua Laei. Whiting’s conversion was good giving the Cougars a 17-0 lead over the Aztecs. BYU’s Luke Mocke found the tryline after running the ball in after receiving it from Kevin Schofield. Whiting’s conversion was good increasing BYU’s lead to 24-0.

Fourteen minutes later, BYU flanker Ara Elkington added five points to BYU’s tally for the night giving the Cougars a 29-0 lead. Subbing in for Jackson Kaka, Nic Purcell bulldozed his way in for BYU’s sixth try of the night at the end of the first half. Whiting sent the ball through the uprights for another two points putting the Cougars up by 36 points at half-time.

BYU will play San Diego State at South Field on March 29, 2016

Provo, UT- The undefeated Brigham Young University rugby team will welcome the San Diego State rugby team to South Field on Tuesday, March 29.

"San Diego State will be hungry for another win," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of the visiting team. "We'll need to continue our momentum from the win against UVU last week. Our team has seen different players step up when called upon. I know we'll see the same thing happen at South Field when we play the Aztecs tomorrow."

Last week's match against the Utah Valley Wolverines ended with a 25-7 victory. The Cougars took the field with mixture of 1st and 2nd XV members of the BYU rugby team in the win in Orem. Players that have stepped to the challenge in recent games include freshman scrumhalf/flyhalf Kingston Matua and senior lock Brock Markham.

"Brock and Kingston have been impact players on the pitch," said BYU 2nd XV coach Steve St. Pierre of the two Cougars. "Kingston has done a great job leading on the field with his passing ability. Brock has been key in winning many of our lineouts. Players like Kingston and Brock are the reason why our team has so much depth this season. The depth in our roster will be important in the post-season."

With its sights set on winning the 2016 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, BYU is the top-ranked team in the nation. The Cougars have not lost a match since February 15, 2014 against St. Mary's at St. Mary's home pitch. BYU has won five national championships. Four of its five championships were consecutive seasons from 2012 to 2015. BYU's last championship win was a nail-biter against the California Golden Bears. The Cougars finished on top with a 30-27 win.

BYU sweeps the 2016 series against St. Mary's with a 62-15 win at home in Provo on March 12

Provo, UT- In front of a packed stadium at South Field, the no. 1 Brigham Young University rugby team defeated the no. 3 St. Mary's Gaels 62-15 on Saturday, March 12. In the first half, BYU sophomore winger Kevin Schofield completed his third game in row with a hat trick giving the Cougars the momentum they needed to continue their win streak.

"St. Mary's played a tough game today, but our boys played hard and kept their foot on the gas all 80 minutes," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU's win at home. "Kevin stepped up today on his birthday. We also saw consistent play in our set pieces and good ball control."

Despite kicking off to start the first half, the Cougars managed to get the ball back and found themselves in scoring position early on. A handful of penalties prevented the Cougars from finding the try line. BYU finally scored a try in the 7th minute when a Jared Whippy kick connected with Schofield who eluded several Gaels en route to his first try of the day. BYU's Calvin Whiting's conversion was good giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead.

The Gaels answered back in the 21st minute taking advantage of the BYU penalty by sending the ball through the uprights for three points closing the gap to 7-3 with BYU still in the lead. Not only did the Gaels score three points, but Whippy was also sent to the sin bin requiring the Cougars to play down a man for the next ten minutes.

Not allowing the their shortage of players on the field to hold them back from scoring, BYU once again got on the scoreboard due to a try from eight-man Joe Pikula who bulldozed his way through three St. Mary's players. Whiting followed up Pikula's try with a completed conversion increasing BYU's lead to 14-3.

The No. 1 BYU Cougars to play no. 3 St. Mary's on Saturday, March 12

Provo, UT- In a battle of two of the top collegiate rugby teams in the nation, the no. 1 Brigham Young University Cougars will take on the no. 3 St. Mary's Gaels at South Field in Provo this Saturday, March 12, at 1 p.m. MT for the second time in 2016. In the last match between the Cougars and Gaels on Feb. 20 at St. Mary's, the Cougars hung on for a 30-29 win despite the relentlessness and conditioning of the Gaels.

"St. Mary's always brings it every match so we need to be prepared," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of skill level and conditioning of Gaels. "We will need to be better in our set pieces and execution. We'll also need to keep our foot on the gas the entire 80 minutes and stay focused on finishing with the win. We can't afford to play the same way we did last week against Central Washington."

Last week against the Central Washington Wildcats, the BYU Cougars had a rough start to both halves of the game which included three tries in a row scores by the Wildcats in the second half. In BYU's last match against the Gaels, the Cougars led 27-8 in the second half. It wasn't until the last five minutes of the match where the Gaels pieced together back-to-back tries and conversions putting the Gaels within one point.

"We'll be defending our home pitch this time," said BYU rugby team captain and scrumhalf Luke Mocke of St. Mary's coming to South Field. "Our passing and ball control will be key against St. Mary's. They have the ability to score as well as play defense. As long as our forward pack and back line work as one, we'll finish with a win."

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