David Smyth

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. 

No. 1 BYU earns ticket to the 2016 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Final after defeating Arkansas State on April 23, 2016

Provo, UT- Continuing its win streak, the no. 1 Brigham Young University rugby team defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals 68-20 at South Field on Saturday, April 23, 2016. The convincing win qualifies the Cougars for the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Final on Saturday, May 7.

"We expected Arkansas State to play hard and hustle the whole game," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth referring to last matchup between BYU and A-State in the 2012 national championship where BYU won by seven points. "We knew what was on the line and we had to stay focused after our last match against Arkansas State. The boys remembered what we worked on in practice and it paid off."

Twin brothers, center Joshua and flyhalf Jared Whippy, added the first 14 points for BYU thanks to Joshua's two tries and Jared's two conversions in the first 15 minutes of the match. However, Arkansas State refused to remain scoreless and found the tryline at the 18-minute mark changing the score to 14-5 in BYU's favor.

Then, in the 23rd minute, Jared Whippy completed a penalty kick giving the Cougars another three points. The Red Wolves answered back with a penalty kick of their own in the 30th minute. Arkansas State was held scoreless in the remaining 10 minutes of the first half as BYU's prop Zane Mendenhall and Josh Anderson, a junior wing, added tries of their own giving the Cougars a 27-8 lead at half. Despite the double-digit lead, the Cougars refused to back down in the second half.

"The coaches reminded us what we were working towards and how we need to keep pusing ourselves," said Jared Whippy of his team's mentality going into the second half.

No. 1 BYU advances to Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinal after defeating Dartmouth 75-15 on April 16, 2016

Thanks to a well-rounded offensive attack, the no. 1 Brigham Young University rugby teams advances to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals after defeating Dartmouth 75-15 at Dartmouth on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

"Hats off to our boys for continuing play hard even on the road," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of his team's win over Dartmouth. "Many of our players stepped up and performed when called upon. We have to keep winning to play another week and that's what they did today."

BYU winger Kevin Schofield put the first five points on the score board with a try in the 5th minute giving the Cougars a 5-0 lead. The Cougars added additional points to the board thanks to two tries from Tua Laei and one a piece from Jared Whippy and Josh Anderson plus two good conversions until the 38th minute when a Dartmouth interception resulted in a try. Dartmouth's conversion was successful changing the score to 34-7 before half-time.

After going into half-time down 34-7, Dartmouth made a penalty kick closing the gap to 34-10 with the Cougars still in the lead.

"The coaches told us to play our hardest," said BYU scrumhalf Luke Mocke. "They reminded us what we're playing for which helped come out even harder in the second half."

Three minutes later at the 44-minute mark, no. 8 Joe Pikula rumbled in the try line giving BYU another five points. The conversion was successful increasing BYU's lead to 41-10.

BYU lock Matt Jensen found the try line in the 53rd minute. BYU scored more tries between the 56-minute mark and 79-minute mark thanks to Jared Whippy, Laei, Anderson and Sialao Mobley. While only two of the conversions between the 23-minute stretch were completed, BYU increased its lead to 75-10.

Dartmouth wasn't done for the day. The opposing team scored another try at the end of the match making the score 75-15 still in BYU's favor.

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.

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 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 rugby continues win streak with 71-10 finish over Army on March 18

Provo, UT- The no. 1 Brigham Young University rugby team continued its win streak with a 71-10 over the Army Knights of West Point on March 18, 2016 at South Field. Army scored two tries in the first half but would never find the tryline again falling to the balanced attack of BYU.

"We're grateful for Army making it out tonight and for the service they render," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of the Army Knights who traveled from West Point, NY. "They're a disciplined team. We needed to come out attacking all 80 minutes because we knew they would not give up."

Army responded with strong counterattacks in the first couple minutes of the match keeping the Cougars on edge until the Cougars gained control of the ball and worked their way down to Army's half of the field. In the 3rd minute, BYU's Zach Webber dodged several Knights and found the tryline adding five points to the score board. BYU sophomore center Calvin Whiting completed the conversion giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead.

Ten minutes later, the Army Knights responded with a try of their own. Army's flyhalf missed the conversion changing the score to 7-5 with the Cougars up by two points. In the 20th minute, Whiting scored a try off a grubber from junior flyhalf Joseph Nicholls. Whiting then completed the conversion giving the Cougars a 14-5 lead.

"We knew they'd respond quickly so we had to score as soon as we could to regain the momentum," Whiting said of Army's try in the 13th minute. "Our team stepped up and we were able to maintain ball control and play solid defense."

Undefeated BYU Cougars host the Army Knights of West Point on Thursday, March 17

Provo, UT- Brigham Young Unversity rugby's 1st XV host the Army Knights of West Point on Thursday, March 17, 2016, with kick off set for 7:00 p.m. MST. The no. 1 Cougars recently defeated St. Mary's 62-15 at BYU's South Field while the Knights are coming off a 56-5 win over Dartmouth on March 5, 2016.

"Army will be hungry for their next win after beating Dartmouth," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of visiting Knights. "They're a fit, physical team and will hustle tall 80 minutes. I like what I've been seeing from our boys so far this season. We'll need to play our game and stay focused both halves."

The Army Knights are currently 6-3 with their three losses handed to them by Iona, Kutztown and Air Force. All three losses were by an average margin of 12 points. On the other hand, the BYU Cougars are undefeated so far during the 2016 season winning by an average margin of 50 points since their home opener against Air Force late February in 1st XV play. 

"We've been able to play well this season thanks to coaches Smyth and Tarawhiti," said BYU rugby team captain and scrumhalf Luke Mocke. "Our conditioning and drills have made the difference in each of our matches. It's shown by our scoring ability and defense."

In each of BYU's wins this season, different Cougars have found the tryline such as no. 8 Joe Pikula and lock Matt Jensen. One such Cougar is sophomore winger Kevin Schofield has completed a hat trick in each of the last three matches.

"Schofield brings a great deal of hustle every game as shown by his ability to put points on the board," Smyth said of winger's several tries this season. "His play along with the leadership of our experienced players have helped us get to where are at this point in the season."

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.

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