Penn Mutual Varsity Cup

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.

Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals: No. 1 BYU Cougars to play Arkansas State at South Field this Saturday

Provo, UT- The undefeated Brigham Young University rugby team (21-0) returns to South Field to play Arkansas State in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinal this Saturday, April 23, 2016, at 1 p.m. MT.

"Our team has continued to work hard carrying the momentum from the regular season to the playoffs this year," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU's performance this season. "We need to continue to stay disciplined all 80-minutes of the game and keep up our intensity. Arkansas State will play their best and will bring it on Saturday."

The Arkansas State Red Wolves has a history of being a formidable opponent on the rugby pitch. In 2012 national championship game, the Cougars and Red Wolves battled it out resulting in a gritty final score of 49-42 in favor of BYU. Arkansas State has produced several All-Americans as well as USA 7s representatives.

"Sticking to the game plan will be key in winning this weekend's game," said BYU no. 8 Joe Pikula who scored a try in last week's playoff game against Dartmouth. "I have full confidence in my team. Executing what the coaches have worked with us on in practice has paid off on the field."

In the 75-15 victory over Dartmouth, multiple Cougars added points to the final tally including Tua Laei, Josh Anderson, Jared Whippy, Sialao Mobley, Matt Jensen and Kevin Schofield. While the Cougars have won several games this season by double digits, the Cougars have demonstrated tough forward play. Fans can expect to see BYU battle it out in the scrums and lineouts throughout the course of Saturday's match.

"This season's forward pack has a lot of experience," said BYU forwards coach Wayne Tarawhiti. "They've worked really hard and our record shows. We're excited to play Arkansas State. We're ready to play and we know they will be ready as well."

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 Cougars Will Attempt Four-Peat Against California Golden Bears

BYU senior Dan Hubert runs the ball against CWU in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinals. BYU won 35-8 to advance to the championship match against Cal. Photo by Andrea Wride

Brigham Young University rugby head coach David Smyth will lead the Cougars (13-0) to achieve a feat on May 2 at Rio Tinto that has only been accomplished by one college rugby team: four-straight national championships.

The Cougars have four national titles overall which includes the last three championships in a row along with the 2009 national championship. But the only other rugby team to achieve this feat will be not-ironically suiting up against the Cougars this Saturday: California Berkeley.

The Bears own the record of consecutive championships at 12 from 1991-2002. And with a total of 26 titles to their tally, BYU’s four championships seem meager in quantity.

BYU senior Dan Hubert runs the ball against CWU in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinals. BYU won 35-8 to advance to the championship match against Cal. Photo by Andrea Wride

BYU and California have battled for the championship 8 times in the last 9 years with California owning the series at 5-3. But the Cougars have won the last two meetings in 2013 and 2014 and they know the Bears will be looking to change that recent trend at the 9th meeting this Saturday.

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.”

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.

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.

BYU plays CWU in the Varsity Cup Semifinals

Provo, UT—The BYU rugby season is quickly coming to an end and the Cougars (12-0) remain undefeated as they head to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals this weekend. The two-day 50th Anniversary Celebration begins on Friday and culminates with the game against Central Washington University on Saturday, April 18 at 1 p.m. MST on BYU’s South Field.

“This has been one of the most exciting seasons we’ve had,” said David Smyth, BYU rugby head coach. “It’s fitting that this year is the 50th anniversary. Everyone involved this semester has given a performance worthy of the team’s great legacy.”

Last week the team played in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup quarterfinals and defeated University of California, Los Angeles 45–16. Although the UCLA Bruins fought hard, the Cougars’ offense and defense came together in a spectacular showcase of strength and determination.

The win last weekend means the Cougars advance to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals and will play against the CWU Wildcats. CWU is most recently coming from a victory against the University of Utah (18–7) and has won a total of eight out of ten games this season.

On the other half of the bracket of the quarterfinals are the California Golden Bears and the Navy Midshipmen. California put on an offensive exhibition last week beating the Texas Longhorns 100-7. Navy, on the other hand, is going into the quarterfinals following a nail biter against Clemson winning 24-23.

Wayne Tarawhiti, assistant coach for BYU rugby, feels the game against CWU will be a good test for BYU in preparation for the winner of California vs. Navy.

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