Wayne Tarawhiti

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.

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 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.

BYU Breaks Scoring Century Mark Against UVU

BYU junior prop Zane Mendenhall runs the ball against UVU at South Field on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. The BYU Cougars won 109-0. Photo by Andrea Wride
BYU junior prop Zane Mendenhall runs the ball against UVU at South Field on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. The BYU Cougars won 109-0. Photo by Andrea Wride

Provo, UT—The no. 1 BYU Cougars were unstoppable BYU’s South Field on Wednesday, March 25, beating the Utah Valley University Wolverines 109–0.

BYU junior prop Zane Mendenhall runs the ball against UVU at South Field on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. The BYU Cougars won 109-0. Photo by Andrea Wride

The Cougars scored a total of 17 tries by 12 different players. On average, the team scored one try almost every five minutes. The match was reminiscent of BYU’s game against UNLV, when the Cougars beat the Rebels 99–0. Tonight’s victory means a 10–0 season for BYU.

“UVU had some good offensive plays, especially in the second half, but we were consistent and we played hard all night. We played well together as a team,” said David Smyth, BYU’s head coach.

The first score of the night came during the 11thminute with a try by BYU’s junior flanker Steve Davies, and the Cougars did not stop scoring for the rest of the game.

BYU Plays Utah For Wasatch Cup This Saturday

Salt Lake City, UT—BYU (8–0) is coming to the Wasatch Cup ready to play the University of Utah (8–3) for the second time this season. The game is Saturday, March 21 at 1 p.m. MST on the Ute Soccer Field.

Most recently BYU defeated Saint Mary’s College 35–26. The game was a close one; the Cougars were behind most of the first half until a try by senior center Seki Kofe followed by a conversion by junior fly half Jonny Linehan in the 28th minute. Linehan had an especially impressive match, despite being injured, and scored 20 out of the 35 total points.

“Every season is good, but this one has been especially impressive,” said BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti. “Our boys have really come together and know what they are doing. They play as a team.”

The Cougars have already played the Utes once this season in the Southern Utah Showcase and beat the team 50–22. While Utah traditionally has an aggressive offense, BYU has a strong defense and a depth at different positions.

BYU Cougars face off against SLCC Bruins

Provo, UT—BYU (6-0) is set to play Salt Lake Community College this Saturday, March 7, on BYU’s South Field at 1 p.m. MT.

This game is a special event because it is Fan Appreciation Day; entrance to the match is free.

“We wanted to let our fans know how much we appreciate them,” said BYU rugby assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti. “We’re hoping to get a good crowd. I think fans are anxious to get back to the South Field to cheer on their favorite rugby team.”

The Cougars will be sticking around for a while; the upcoming season games are home games. This will be BYU’s first home game of the season due to the Air Force Academy cancellation two weeks ago.

Next week’s home game is against Saint Mary’s College. BYU played the team in California last weekend and beat them 32–28. Saint Mary’s is the only school to upset BYU last season.

Salt Lake Community College is in its third year of club competition. The team was organized in an attempt to introduce more students to the sport of rugby and invite them to be a part of a team.

Be sure to support the Cougars this weekend as live game coverage will be available on Twitter.

BYU takes on tough competition this weekend

Moraga, CA—BYU is on the road again and ready to play one of its toughest competitors: St. Mary’s College in California. The game is at 12 p.m. PST this Saturday, February 28.

After an unexpected game cancellation against the Air Force Academy last weekend, BYU is anxious to get back on the field, and St. Mary’s is a fitting opponent. It is the only team that disrupted BYU’s win streak last year (L 30–24).

“Not only are we ready to get back in action and play, but we’re coming into this game with a lot of energy and preparation,” said Kyle Sumsion, BYU team captain. “Last year we weren’t as focused. We don’t want to make that mistake again.”

While the Cougars went on to defeat the Gaels in their second matchup of the 2014 season, the first game was still a disappointment. To make sure this coming game isn’t a repeat of history, the Cougars have put in extra hours at practice this past week.

This season St. Mary’s has experienced some turnover in players and as a result has had some ups and downs. The team is coming to the match against BYU with the latest win against San Diego State (W 78–5). St. Mary’s Tommy Wallace and Kingsley McGowan are leading the team, both offensively and defensively.

In 2014, St. Mary’s was named the Men’s College Team of the Year by American Rugby. Most recently Coach Tim O’Brien was awarded Coach of the Year on January 24, 2015 by USA Rugby.

“It’s no lie that St. Mary’s is a good school and has a great rugby team,” said BYU rugby assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti. “But BYU has had no losses this season. This will probably be one of the most exciting games up to this point in the season.”

This weekend’s game will be broadcast live on SMC Gael Vision at www.smcgaels.com. For a direct link, visit http://rugby.byu.edu/schedule/2015-schedule.

BYU takes on two teams in Red Rock Invitational Tournament

Provo, UT—The Red Rock Invitational is coming up this weekend in Mesquite, Nevada, and BYU will take on two teams during the two-day tournament: Cal Poly SLO and University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“We’re looking forward to a challenging weekend,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth. “We have great momentum coming off our wins against ASU and Utah.”

The games begin on Friday, January 30 with the BYU 2nd XV taking on UNLV at 2:00 p.m. PST. The following day BYU’s 2nd XV team will take on the Cal Poly SLO 2nd XV team at 11:30 a.m. PST. Later that same day the BYU 1st XV will play the Cal Poly SLO 1st XV team.

BYU is coming into the tournament with a 2-0 winning streak for the season. After decisive wins over both in-state rival Utah (W 50-22) and ASU (W 72-8), BYU is staying focused and training hard for the upcoming back-to-back games.

“Everyday this week is full of team practices,” BYU rugby assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti said. “We have been playing well, but we don’t want to lose our edge. This weekend could really set the tone for the rest of the season.”

The Red Rock Invitational is a chance for collegiate rugby teams in the western United States to come together and play against each other. The tournament came to Mesquite last year and the games are held in the Mesquite Sports and Event complex. Bill Ungricht, the current commissioner for the Utah Collegiate Rugby Conference, says tournament organizers are hoping to make the Red Rock in Mesquite an annual tradition.

Of the teams BYU is set to play this weekend, Cal Poly SLO is ranked one of the Canterbury D1A Top 20 college teams, and was a 2014 D1A quarterfinalist. Dixie State University is in its second year as a program. The match against BYU will be the first game of the year for UNLV. Last year BYU defeated both teams: Cal Poly SLO (W 37-22) and UNLV (W 48-0).

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.”

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.”