Luke Mocke

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 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 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.

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 Cougars finish 58-27 over CWU Wildcats at South Field on March 5

Provo, UT- The Central Washington Wildcats proved to be a resilient, physical opponent as the Brigham Young University Cougars battled for a challenging 58-27 win at BYU's South Field on Saturday, March 5, 2016.

"We expected a tough game from Central Washington which we handled well," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. "We did well in our set pieces and continuity game in the first half. We finished the first half better than we have in the last two games."

The Cougars had to overcome a rough start as the Wildcats made to penalty kicks in a row within the first five minutes of play putting the Wildcats up by six points. It wasn't till the 8th minute of the match that the Cougars got on the score board thanks to a try from BYU sophomore winger Kevin Schofield. BYU sophomore center Calvin Whiting's conversion was no good allowing the Wildcats to keep their 6-5 lead.

BYU scored its second try of the match as junior fullback Ryan Blaser scored a try off a Jared Whippy assist. Whiting's conversion was good giving the Cougars a 12-6 lead in the 11th minute. Eight minutes later, Whiting capitalized on a CWU penalty adding another three points to the score board for BYU increasing BYU's lead to 15-6. Despite being awarded another penalty kick in the twenty 23rd minute, Whiting missed. Two minutes later, CWU missed its penalty kick due to a Cougar infringement. 

After a consistent attacking phase by the Cougars, BYU's Jonny Layne fought his way to a try after being lifted off his feet by a CWU defender in the 27th minute. Whiting's conversion changed the score to 22-6 in BYU's favor. Five minutes later, BYU's Ricky T. scored BYU's fourth try of the game. A completed conversion by Whiting increased BYU's lead to 29-6.

BYU beats CWU and advances to Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Championship

Provo, UT—Excitement abounded today on BYU’s South Field as the Cougars defeated Central Washington University 35–8, advancing to the final round of the Varsity Cup National Championship.

The undefeated Cougars fought back an aggressive offense from the CWU Wildcats throughout the game and sustained several injuries. Despite the setbacks, the Cougars played hard the entire 80 minutes and scored consistently.

“Both teams had great defense, but BYU played really well and kept CWU at bay most of the time,” said David Smyth, BYU rugby head coach. “Even when our players were hurt they turned in a winning performance. Nothing stands between us now and the final championship game.”

Linehan, a scrum half affectionately known as “Jonny Rugby” by fans, is a New Zealand native and All-American. He scored the first try of the game. CWU then took the game up a notch and scored a try but were only able to get in a penalty kick for the remainder of the game. Other BYU players who scored include Joshua Whippy, Joe Pikula, Ryan Blaser and Arawa Elkington, who scored an especially impressive try of a stolen CWU pass.

“Central Washington’s front line was strong,” Linehan said. “Our forwards and backs communicated really well throughout the match allowing several us Cougars to score. Being able to play at South Field with our loyal crowd helped us big time.”

Fans from both teams filled the South Field, cheering loudly for their respective team. Among the fans were close to 100 past BYU Rugby players who were there as part of the BYU Rugby 50th Anniversary Celebration festivities. They flooded the field during halftime and were honored by current team members and fans alike.

“We want to thank everyone who has contributed to this team’s legacy and made BYU rugby what it is today,” Smyth said. “Whether current team members, past players or fans, we couldn’t do it without you.”

BYU holds Cal Poly to one try in Red Rock Invitational

Mesquite, NV-Senior lock Dan Hubert’s two tries in the first six minutes of the match set the pace as the Cougars (4-0) beat Cal Poly SLO 74-5 on Saturday, Jan. 31, in the Red Rock Invitational.

BYU sophomore No. 8 Hayden Johnson scores a try against Cal Poly SLO on Jan. 31, 2015 (Photo by Andrea Wride)
BYU sophomore No. 8 Hayden Johnson scores a try against Cal Poly SLO on Jan. 31, 2015 (Photo by Andrea Wride)

BYU’s stingy defense kept Cal Poly to five points in the game as it improved to 4-0. The 39-point margin came as a result of BYU’s flow playing the ball out of the ruck.

“I’m very pleased with our effort and execution today,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of his players. “I thought the first twenty minutes was the most accurate rugby we’ve played this season.”

The Cougars moved the ball quickly and efficiently despite the physical presence of the Mustangs.

“Cal Poly offered a physical challenge at the breakdown but we created many opportunities to score,” Smyth said.

BYU junior scrumhalf Luke Mocke, who scored a try in the 68th minute, added that the game was more physical than the score showed due to the size and athleticism of Cal Poly’s players.

In the end Cal Poly’s athleticism was not enough as BYU’s solid forward play allowed eight different Cougars to score tries. Sophomore wing Tua Laei, freshman center Calvin Whiting and sophomore flanker Ara Elkington joined Hubert in scoring two tries each. The BYU Cougars will play the Utah State Aggies in Logan, UT on Saturday, Feb. 7.

BYU Rugby defeats Utah in St. George 50-22

BYU sophomore wing Tua Leai runs with the ball in hand against Utah. (Photo credit Andrea Wride)
BYU sophomore wing Tua Leai runs with the ball in hand against Utah. (Photo credit Andrea Wride)

St. George, UT- BYU rugby’s convincing win over ASU two weeks ago in St. George foreshadowed today’s 50-22 win over Utah.

Junior scrum half Luke Mocke opened the game scoring his first of two tries in the first six minutes setting the tone early for the Cougars.

“Today’s win showed the depth we have at different positions,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of the six different players who scored tries. “Our forwards did a great job holding their ground creating more chances for us to make plays.”

Utah played a physical game keeping their forwards in tight leading to four tries and one conversion. Aggressive play by the Utes resulted in extended periods of possession but the Cougars still outscored them.

Fans in attendance saw the return of All-American junior fly half Jonathan Linehan who scored ten points off of conversions. Freshman Calvin Whiting added two tries. Sophomore Tua Laei, junior Steve Davies and seniors Ryan Blaser and Kyle Sumsion added a try each to the Cougar’s victory.

Whiting’s try off a Laei pass in the 71st minute wide right put the game out of reach for the Utes giving the Cougars their second victory.